Finding the Sun. The Solar revolution in Africa

Burkina Faso is now home to West Africa’s biggest solar farm, a 33-megawatt plant located in the town of Zatubi, outside the capital Ouagadougou.

Built at a cost of $56.7 million, the 55-hectare (approximately 135-acre) farm is expected to power tens of thousands of households in the country.

It was funded through donations from the European Union and a loan from AFD – France’s development agency. French President Emmanuel Macron who is on a regional visit joined Burkinabe president Roch Marc Kabore to launch the farm.

Records indicate that only about 20% of Burkina Faso’s 17 million population have access to the national power system. The majority depend on other unsustainable power generation options.

The country is aiming to meet 30% of its power needs through solar energy by the year 2030. Most African countries that have longed depended on hydroelectric and thermal energy are now shifting to solar energy with abundance of the sun in the region.

South Africa has continent’s biggest solar farm

South Africa hosts the biggest solar farm on the continent with a 175MW facility (Solar Capital De Aar) in De Aar, located in the country’s Northern Cape region. The facility spans across 473 hectares and was officially opened in 2016.

“The inauguration of the Solar Capital De Aar 3 marks the commercial operation of the 17th Solar Photovoltaic plant in the Northern Cape Province, which has become the country’s mecca for the development of renewable energy sources,” the sector minister Joemat-Pettersson said at the launch.

“The 4.8 billion rand ($315 million) development by the department in partnership with Solar Capital will be exported into the national electricity grid and be able to power approximately 75 000 houses in South Africa,” CNBC Africa reported at the time.

The facility is also reputed to be the biggest in the Southern Hemisphere and the Middle-East region. It took a little over two years to build and at the time was said to have employed over 369 people during its construction.

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