16 December 2015, Abu Dhabi – A groundbreaking ceremony by representatives of the United Arab Emirates, the Islamic Republic of Mauritania and Masdar – Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy company – has marked the official start of construction in Mauritania on seven solar photovoltaic (PV) projects, with a total capacity of 12 megawatts (MW).
The President of Mauritania, Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, the Mauritanian Minister of Petroleum, Energy and Mining, Mohamed Salem Ould Bechir, and the UAE Ambassador in Nouakchott, Isa Abdullah Masoud Al Kalbani, officiated over the ceremony in Boulenour.
The projects are Masdar’s second initiative in Mauritania, and focuses on clean energy generation and distribution in remote areas. By virtue of their nature, the solar PV energy production plants will contribute toward limiting climate change impact.
In addition, the initiative also lends strong support to the United Nations’ energy-related Sustainable Development Goal. This goal aims to broaden access to clean and affordable energy for greater numbers of people. Respectively the seven power plants will, on average, meet 30% of electricity demand for each of the towns in which they are being developed. The first UAE-funded project Sheikh Zayed 15MW solar energy project in Nouakchott developed by Masdar, was delivered in March 2013. The overall projects of 27MW in Nouakchott including the seven remote cities target 50% of Mauritania’s population.
Dr Ahmad Belhoul, CEO of Masdar, said: “We know that the renewable energy market is rapidly growing across the globe, and because innovative and ever-evolving technologies are increasingly injecting impetus to the commercial viability of clean energy, we are confident that these PV plants will further serve as testament to the tremendous social impact that Masdar's global renewable energy projects are facilitating. Solar energy solutions provide extraordinary opportunities to address Mauritania’s growing energy needs economically and efficiently, while simultaneously improving access to energy and security of supply.”
Mohamed Salem Ould Bechir, Mauritania’s Minister of Petroleum, Energy and Mines, added: “The groundbreaking ceremony highlights an important milestone in the economic and social development of Mauritania. It also further cements the longstanding, favourable relationship between Mauritania and the United Arab Emirates.”
“This projects go a long way to accelerating the deployment of renewable energy and shifting Mauritania’s reliance on fossilised fuel for electricity. In addition, the projects not only further advance the country’s position for faster adoption of renewable energy solutions that will contribute towards a diversified energy sector, but it is also a positive step in natural resources conservation and, very importantly, climate protection – which is a pressing issue for the whole world right now,” the minister said.
The new round of PV plants feature maximum solar energy penetration and state-of-the-art technologies, and will add significant energy capacity to each of the towns in which they are being built. To be constructed in Boutilimit, Aleg, Aioune, Akjoujt, Atar, Al Shami and Boulenour, three of the plants will each be 1MW capacity, while three others will be 2MW, and a third 3MW.
With an annual combined reduction of 16,134 tonnes of CO₂ that the plants will bring about, it was fitting that the soil-turning happened in the last week of November, two days before the start of COP21 in Paris – the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
Consolidated Contractors Company won the tender, and completion of the projects is expected in the fourth quarter next year.
Dr Belhoul concluded: “Masdar is at the forefront of the UAE’s efforts to deploy clean energy at home and across our borders, simultaneously driving sustainable economic growth, employment and prosperity. Given that the accord reached at COP21 is all about action now, the projects in Mauritania showcase Masdar’s commitment to this action by turning our climate pledge into tangible outcomes.”