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Senegal turns on first large-scale wind farm in West Africa

While the 158.7 megawatt (MW) facility has started to export power, construction work is still ongoing and due to finish next year

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A project described as West Africa’s “first ever utility-scale wind farm”, has started transmitting power to Senegal’s national electricity grid.

In an announcement Thursday, renewable power firm Lekela said that Parc Eolien Taiba N’Diaye (PETN) would produce electricity for Senegal across a period of 20 years.

While the 158.7 megawatt (MW) facility has started to export power, construction work is still ongoing and due to finish next year. Once it is fully built, PETN will use 46 wind turbines supplied by Danish firm Vestas.

Africa has huge untapped potential when it comes to renewable energy. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA) it is home to the “richest solar resources in the world” but has installed just 5 gigawatts of solar photovoltaics. This is less than 1% of the planet’s total, the IEA says.

In July 2019, Africa’s largest wind farm, the Lake Turkana Wind Power project, was officially inaugurated. The 310 MW facility was opened by President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya.

“We are pleased to note that Kenya is without doubt on course to be a global leader in renewable energy,” Kenyatta said in a speech given at the launch.

“This will not only ensure that our nation’s scenic beauty and unique ecosystems are preserved and protected for both present and future generations, but will also ensure that we become energy independent and that our energy supply will be safe as well as predictable,” he added.

The project is made up of 365 turbines, each having a capacity of 850 kilowatts. It is located 600 kilometers from Nairobi in the Loiyangalani District, Marsabit County.

Construction of the facility started in October 2014 and it began full commercial operations in March 2019.

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