Technology group Wärtsilä has entered into an agreement with independent power producer Eren Renewable Energy’s 90%-owned Essakane Solar, in Burkina Faso, to supply it with a 15 MW solar photovoltaic (PV) power plant.
The remaining 10% is owned by Eren’s development partner African Energy Management Platform, which will operate the solar PV plant and sell the energy to West Africa-focused miner Iamgold's 400 000 oz Essakane mine.
The offgrid gold mine, located 330 km north-east of Burkina Faso capital Ouagadougou, needs a reliable and sustainable around-the-clock energy source, with the plant enabling the mine to decrease its fuel consumption by about six-million litres a year. The plant will further reduce Essakane’s yearly carbon dioxide emissions by 18 500 t.
"This project represents a major breakthrough in the industry," said Eren Africa business development VP Christophe Fleurence, noting that hybrid solar PV-engine solutions allowed energy intensive industries to enter an era of more climate-friendly operations, improve business and increase resilience to oil price variation.
"Eren chose Wärtsilä for its meritorious track record in engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) projects in Africa and their commitment to design, deliver and support a reliable hybrid solution like this,” he highlighted.
The solar PV power plant will be built next to a 55 MW Wärtsilä power plant currently running on heavy fuel oil. The solar PV plant and the engine power plant will be controlled and operated in synchronization – forming the largest engine-solar PV hybrid power plant on the continent.
Wärtsilä's scope covers the EPC for the solar PV power plant, including the control system for the hybrid plant. The power plant is scheduled to be operational in late 2017.
The order is booked for the first quarter of 2017.