The project is the first utility-scale solar power installation in the Islamic Republic of Mauritania.
“Mauritania has some of the highest levels of solar radiation in the world, making it an ideal place for solar power installations,” said Mauritania’s Minister of Petroleum, Energy and Mines H.E. Taleb Ould Abdivall. “We are pleased to be working with such esteemed partners on this important project and remain committed to harnessing our abundant renewable energy resources. Masdar has gained tremendous experience in the renewable energy sector through its projects worldwide and we look forward to future opportunities for cooperation,” H.E. Abdivall added.
Mauritania has an installed grid capacity of just 144 megawatts, supplied mostly by diesel generators, but the country has significant untapped renewable energy potential in the form of both solar and wind. In fact, the country’s wind energy potential is almost four times its annual energy demand.
The 15-MW solar photovoltaic project will provide for the annual demand growth in the country, estimated to be at a rate of 12 per cent in 2012. It will also supply much needed power to Mauritania, which currently faces severe energy shortages. The country has a low electrification rate of 60 per cent.
The Masdar solar power project is being built next to the university in Nouakchott, currently under construction, and will serve as a learning laboratory for solar energy development in the Islamic Republic of Mauritania.
“This project also proves that energy access and commercially viable renewable energy can go hand-in-hand,” said Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, chief executive officer of Masdar. “Partnerships are at the core of Masdar’s business strategy and projects like this one underscore the critical role collaboration plays in renewable energy development.
“With the demand for energy rapidly increasing – especially in the developing world – tapping into renewable energy is critical,” added Dr. Al Jaber. “The integration of wind, solar and hydro power helps to reduce the strain on our natural resources and serves as a bridge to energy security and economic development opportunities. Investing in renewable energy preserves natural resources, contributes to energy security and water security, and fosters sustainable development.”
Along with renewable energy projects in Tonga and Afghanistan, the Mauritania project is part of Masdar’s commitment to the United Nations’ Year of Sustainable Energy for All – a global initiative announced by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, which aims to ensure universal access to modern energy services, double the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency and double the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.
Once construction on the project is complete, the Nouakchott solar power plant will be owned and operated by Société Mauritanienne de l’électricité (SOMELEC), the government-owned electric utility in Mauritania.
“We’ve entrusted Masdar to represent us in this important project and are extremely pleased with the professionalism and speed of the process thus far,” said Moahmed Salem Ould Bechir, general director of SOMELEC.
Of the deal, Masdar CEO Dr. Al Jaber added: “Over the last several decades, the UAE has gained tremendous experience as an energy leader in the hydrocarbon industry. Through Masdar’s global clean energy projects, this leadership position is being further strengthened as we now export renewable energy.”
Masdar continues to invest in renewable energy projects throughout the world. The company has several international projects that are either completed or under construction, including:
• The London Array is expected to be the world’s largest offshore wind farm, generating up to 1GW of electricity in the United Kingdom.
• Gemasolar is a concentrated solar power plant in Spain, producing 20MW of electricity 24-hours a day through the use of innovative energy storage technology.
• Valle 1 & Valle 2 are concentrated solar power plants in Spain, each producing 50MW of electricity.
• The Seychelles project is an 8-turbine, 6-megawatt wind farm that will supply 10-15 percent of Mahe Island’s installed capacity.
• Shams 1 is a 100MW concentrated solar power plant in the western region of the Abu Dhabi emirate. When complete, the plant will be able to generate enough electricity to power 20,000 homes.