Mauritania: 50MW solar PV Project
Mauritania‘s first large-scale solar PV plant
The Toujounine solar PV power plant helped Mauritania achieve its 2020 goal of 20% renewables, supplying 10% of the country‘s total electricity production in 2019. Consisting of 156,000 solar panels and totalling 50MW installed capacity, the project is the largest solar PV plant in the country. Every year, the plant generates around 87GWh, which is enough to sustainably meet the electricity demands of 362,500 people.
Technology brief – how it works
Photovoltaics involve the conversion of sunlight into electricity using the photoelectric effect. This effect is based on the characteristic of some materials, like silicon, that create a direct current when absorbing energy from sunlight. The energy received for a given area is generally higher the closer a location is to the equator, as the incidence angle of sunlight is steeper. However, cloud coverage does have a great effect on actual electricity yields. The highest solar yields therefore can be achieved in regions with little cloud cover like the Arabian Peninsula, Australia and Africa.
Solar cells are bundled together in large numbers inside modules, which are wired together generating direct current. To make this suitable for commercial electricity grids, the current is usually converted into alternating current through the use of inverters. Prices for solar modules have fallen rapidly with large-scale production and applications. In sunny places solar power can compete with conventional power plants without additional support.
Mauritania’s economy is sensitive to international commodity prices. Between 2008 and 2014, Mauritania experienced an economic boom. The World Bank attributes this boom to improved productivity, and income in rural areas after reform policies in the agricultural and livestock sector. Nonetheless, the boom was transient, a fall in mineral prices in 2014 sparked a recession. Today, economic recovery remains slow as rapid urbanization and a growing population exert further pressure on resources.
Under its 2016 Accelerated Growth and Shared Prosperity Strategy, the Government of Mauritania considers energy a priority for poverty reduction. Mauritania is endowed with oil, natural gas, and several renewable energy resources. It has considerable wind potential on the Atlantic coast making commercialization attractive. However, fossil fuels still dominate energy consumption. Liquefied petroleum gas accounts for 95% of the country’s commercial energy needs. The government plans to meet its growing energy demand with fewer fuel imports through renewable energy. It set and achieved a target of 20% renewables by 2020.