The grand opening of the world’s largest hybrid solar/thermal plant, was held earlier this month in Northern Burkina Faso. The new 15 MWp photovoltaic (“PV”) power plant will supply IAMGOLD Essakane SA with competitive and carbon-free electricity.
The solar power plant has close to 130,000 photovoltaic panels. The 15MWp plant (“Essakane Solar”) will contribute to the existing 57 MW heavy fuel oil (“HFO”) power plant. This will create the largest hybrid PVHFO plant in the world as well as one of the largest solar facilities in sub-Saharan Africa.
The construction of this solar plant, under the management of Wärtsilä, began 10 months ago. The IAMGOLD Essakane S.A. gold mine is one of the largest privately-held companies in the country,producing 389,000 ounces of gold.
The mine is in a very isolated location. As a result, it is currently off-grid and relies solely on HFO. Therefore, IAMGOLD Essakane S.A. put forward a progressive sustainability agenda and moved forward with the project sponsor, Total Eren, a global renewable energy independent power producer (IPP), and AEMP, a developer and independent power producer, to add solar capacity to its existing power system.
Reduced fuel consumption
The 15 MWp solar project will in a great way reduce the mine’s fuel consumption. This is by approximately 6m litres per year and reduce its annual CO2 emissions by nearly 18,500 tons. Moreover, Essakane Solar has engaged procedures to register carbon credits generated by the project at the United Nations program.
According to Stephen Letwin, the President and CEO of IAMGOLD Corporation, the transition to generating more energy from renewable sources has been central to IAMGOLD’s new energy strategy for several years now.
Further more, Fabienne Demol, Executive Vice-President; Global Head of Business Development of Total Eren,said that the ceremony sets a long-lasting footprint for Total Eren in Burkina Faso and confirms ability to collaborate, together with AEMP, with mining companies and address their energy needs.
According to the co-founder of AEMP, Richard Duffy, the inauguration of the Essakane Solar Plant confirms the contribution renewable energy can make to support the competitiveness of the mining sector in Burkina Faso and elsewhere in Africa.
The government of Burkina Faso has been offering full support; making this project viable and bodes well for similar future projects.