With up to $9 billion in hydrocarbon developments, a $43.5 billion green hydrogen project in Mauritania and a number of small- to large-scale renewable energy projects expected to come online over the next few years, the MSGBC region’s power sector is set to undergo a transformation.
Opportunities within the power generation space, in particular, will be largely driven by the exploitation of low-carbon energy sources, and as such, the upcoming MSGBC Oil, Gas & Power conference – opened by H.E. Macky Sall, Senegalese President and current African Union Chairperson – will offer critical insight into these opportunities.
Through a roundtable forum under the theme, “Financing Electrification within the Energy Transition,” the conference will explore the strategic role played by each of these low-carbon energy sources in improving power generation capacity, formulating a robust west African energy transition narrative ahead of COP 27 this year in Egypt. In light of this, here is what you need to know about the potential capacity of each major energy source in the MSGBC basin.
Enhancing Power Generation Capacity through Natural Gas
With Woodside’s Sangomar field offering estimated outputs of 60-100 million cubic feet (mcf) of gas per day and bp’s Greater Tortue Ahmeyim (GTA) project with figures of 35 mcf, an estimated 600-840 MW of gas-to-power generation capacity is expected to be brought online. Senegal’s current net capacity is 1.3 GW, 60% of which is oil, 13% coal and under 6% natural gas. Domestic gas output could, therefore, effectively replace oil as the dominant source of power while phasing out carbon-intensive coal. The 15 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of natural gas at GTA is but less than a third of the basin’s 50 tcf known reserves and if tapped at equivalent rates to GTA, could provide an additional 515 MW capacity over several decades.
Furthermore, the nine billion barrels of oil equivalent in the basin, combined with Sangomar’s 500 million barrels, could contribute 4.32 GW from trapped gas alone.
Powering the Region through Solar
With the cost of solar having dropped by 85%, 600 GW of new photovoltaic generation capacity is expected to be added globally within the next five years. Senegal’s insolation falls between the range of 1,600-1,800 kWh/kWp/yr potential – far above the global average – and since the opening of its first solar plant in 2017, the country has added 200 MW of solar capacity, with the country’s prospects closely mirroring that of its neighbours. Mauritania flags solar power development potential of 457.9 GW, yet investment for this sustainable power source has been limited thus far. The African Development Bank’s pioneering Sahel Solar Project has, however, created a lead in the sector, establishing 10 GW of off-grid solar in rural regions across Burkina Faso, Chad, Mauritania and Senegal in just a few years. Furthermore, the World Bank’s Scaling Solar program does have Senegal on the radar, with the development of 60 MW in new solar power last year. At prices of under 4 cents per kWh, solar energy remains the region’s cheapest energy source.
Exploring Wind Opportunities
Collectively, the MSGBC region sees under 260 W/m2 wind power density at 100-meter height across its land area which is below the global mean. However, with an expansive coastline, the MSGBC nations have spotted a localized opportunity, holding approximately one tenth the net generation potential of solar for equally competitive prices. Senegal itself is home to west Africa’s largest wind power station – the 158.7 MW Taiba N’Diaye facility – which provides night-peaking power generation to balance solar’s day-dominant patterns for uninterrupted supply. African power firm, Lekela, is investigating the potential to add a further 100 MW capacity at Taiba N’Diaye. Meanwhile, in Mauritania, the 102.4 MW Boulenouar Wind Farm is slated to come online in Q4 this year at a cost of $150 million.
A Brighter Energy Future
With MSGBC Oil, Gas & Power 2022 approaching, the question on the minds of investors, industry leaders and policymakers is one of scalability and cost-efficiency. While green hydrogen is essentially unlimited, derived from the electrolysis of seawater, this process does however require substantial energy for viability. In its $43.5 billion worth of green hydrogen project agreements signed last year, Mauritania opted for hybrid solar and wind slate developments to balance this equation, totalling 23 GW for the former and18 GW for the latter. But ultimately, with one third of Senegal’s population lacking basic access to power, consideration must be given to gas power that is readily exploitable with largely extant infrastructure, and already on-hand, to prioritize local people.
West Africa is the largest growing human population in the world and yet every one of its nations is targeting universal electrification in the medium-term. Production must meet and surpass demand for economic growth from energy exports, but for an equitable transition to be achieved, this means matching investments into gas alongside solar and wind power. To join delegates unpacking these very issues and to take advantage of unparalleled networking opportunities alongside the region’s chief energy leaders, visit https://msgbcoilgasandpower.com/ to register.