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Solar Overseas PV Markets

Demand analysis of emerging PV markets: Senegal of Africa

June 16, 2020 PV InfoLink

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Country profile

Senegal has an estimated population of 16 million. Its economic growth rate has stayed high at 6%–7% in recent years. However, the Senegalese economy may contract due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with its growth rate widely projected to fall to around 3%. International credit rating agencies Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s have respectively assigned a Ba3 and B+ rating to Senegal, both indicating stable economic prospects.

Senegal has a tropical savanna climate divided into hot and rainy seasons throughout the year. The dry season lasts from November to April and the rainy one from May to October. The annual rainfall ranges from 700 to 1000 mm and the temperature averages 27 °C.  

Senegal lies to the west of the Atlantic Ocean and borders Mauritania in the north, and its southwest region envelops Gambia and shares a border with Guinea-Bissau. Senegal’s geography mostly comprises plains, and its southeast features highlands and hills. The country receives a daily solar radiation of 1,700 kWh/m2.

Renewable energy development in Senegal

Under the Plan for an Emerging Senegal (PSE), the Senegalese government pledges to achieve nationwide energy coverage by 2025, thereby improving the country’s economic performance. It also aims at feeding all electricity generated from renewable sources into the national grid. 

Senegal depends heavily on foreign developers for developing renewable energy projects. Funded by the World Bank, Senegal has been able to deploy more solar, with the installed capacity accounting for 64% of the total renewable energy installations in 2019. Biomass and wind comprised the remaining 36%. 

Share of installed capacity from renewable sources in Senegal

As Senegal’s renewable industry is still in its infancy, the country’s share of installed capacity will vary depending on how its energy policy evolves. 

Solar policies and outcomes in Senegal

To ensure nationwide access to energy—an objective of the PSE—Senegal has recently embarked on renewables development, with solar being one of the main sources. Much of Senegal’s PV demand is driven by independent-power-producer (IPP) projects. The government has yet launched any plan to develop utility-scale projects. 

However, Senegal may soon make progress in utility-scale PV development. Under the World Bank Group’s Scaling Solar, a program seeking to bring additional financing support to help develop solar projects in African countries, the International Financial Corporation (IFC) is expected to help Senegal deploy around 200 MW of solar PV through auctions. 

Of the 200 MW of PV, two projects with a combined capacity of 60 MW were  auctioned and financed last year. They will be grid-connected within this year. Moreover, these projects are the Scaling Solar program’s first projects to be undertaken in Senegal. 

The Senegalese government has also promoted distributed generation PV. During October–November 2018, the Senegalese Regulatory Commission of Electricity Sector introduced a scheme for paying distributed generation systems that feed surplus electricity to the grid.

Senegal’s cumulative installed PV capacity reached 134 MW in 2019, but it did not add new capacity that year, probably because projects funded by the IFC were still under way.

Cumulative installed PV capacity in Senegal

Senegal-China trade: module import and export

China shipped 126 MW of modules to Senegal in 2019. Some of these modules may have been used in the two PV projects financed by the IFC, which will come online within 2020.

module shipment of China export to Senegal

Conclusion

The Senegalese government has recently begun to develop renewables projects to make energy available nationwide, a goal set under the PSE. Solar PV, which accounts for 64% of installed renewable capacity in Senegal, is a major piece of the country’s agenda for renewables development. However, with its PV industry and supply chain still in the nascent stage, Senegal depends heavily on foreign developers for installing PV systems and procuring modules.

Supported by the World Bank Group and its member IFC, Senegal is expected to install around 200 MW of solar capacity, and these installations will underpin the local PV market. Notably, 60 MW of them have been auctioned and funded, and they will be commissioned within this year.  

As Senegal is still short of the target of installed PV capacity set by the IFC, there should be further auctions launched to push it further toward that target. 

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