Optimum Tracker, a company specialized in the design, production and installation of solar trackers for large photovoltaic power plants, is going to build the biggest PV power plant in Senegal at Santhiou-Mekhé, Thies area in Senegal, for Solairedirect an ENGIE subsidiary.
With a nominal capacity of 30 MWc, the Santhiou-Mekhé solar power plant will be the largest in West Africa. 92 000 modules and 11 250 piles will be installed in a semi-desert area by Optimum Tracker and the construction site is expected to last 3 month for the installation of ground mounting systems. Its commissioning is scheduled for early 2017.
Since early 2015, the solar project has been developed by the investment company Meridiam, in partnership with the French manufacturer Solairedirect, as well as with the project’s initial shareholders, the Senegal Strategic Sovereign Investment Fund (FONSIS) and Senergy SUARL, a Senegalese company which develops energy projects.
The power plant falls within the Emerging Senegal Plan (ESP) launched by the President Macky Sall in 2014 with the ambition to create 350 MW of solar power plants in the country to diversify its energetic mix.
Madyan De Welle, Optimum Tracker’s CEO of whom the company is in charge of manufacturing and installing the mounting systems for this project, stated:
“Africa is an important market for Optimum Tracker because we are contributing to enhancing the daily life of people who have limited access to electricity. It’s also a major continent for our international development, especially when we see a partner like ENGIE planning to increase its renewable energies operations locally.”
Today, only 33% of the population of Senegal has access to electricity. The power sector remains modest in size with 650 MW of installed capacity. In addition to the low generation capacity, there are the problems of the frequent and regular power outages which affect the country’s populations and economy, and an extremely high electricity cost for users.
According to NSPRI (National Solar Power Research Institute), a number of African countries benefit from 325 days of sunshine a year and a daily radiation of between 4 kWh and 6 kWh per m2. Sub-Saharan Africa has one of the highest potentials for solar energy generation in the world. The significant reduction in the equipment costs in recent years is conducive to its development in Africa. However, investments continue to be largely insufficient to achieve this potential. Access to long-term financing is essential in order to cover the significant initial equity requirements.