African Wind – New Wind Farms Announced in Ethiopia and Tunisia

A lot has changed since November 2006. That’s when REEEP helped finance a wind farm developed by South African wind developer, Genesis Eco-Energy (Pty) Ltd., through the sale of carbon credits to the UK government. The UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) purchased the credits generated by the Jeffreys Bay 10MW wind farm to offset their 2004 air travel emissions. Two years later the projects are 12 to 30 times bigger and now you have the French and Spanish governments providing assistance for African wind projects.

On October 9th, the Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation announced construction of a 120MW wind farm to help fill the gap of hydrological risks that the country faces due to droughts. The project will be based in Ashegoda and French turbine manufacturer Vergnet will be the developer together with assistance from the French government. Once built it would be the largest wind farm in Ethiopia.

Last month, Spanish wind turbine manufacturer Gamesa announced that they would supply 91 wind turbines, worth €200 million, to Tunisia’s Société Tunisienne de L’Electricité et du Gaz (Steg), for what would become the North African country’s largest wind power facility. The project will be built with financing from the Spanish Development Aid Fund (Fondo Español de Ayuda al Desarrollo) and 120 new direct local jobs are expected to be created. The project is based in the Bizerte region.

These two recent developments in the African wind sector add to June’s announcement by Abu Dhabi National Energy Company (Taqa) and France’s Theolia regarding their strategic partnership to develop renewable energy in Morocco. The two companies plan to submit a joint bid to build and operate a 300MW wind farm in Tarfaya, Morocco.

Theolia, through its Moroccan subsidiary Compagnie Eolienne du Détroit (CED), already operates Morocco’s largest existing wind farm, the 200MW Abdelkhalek Torres project near the northern city of Tetouanin.

The Tarfaya wind project on which Taqa and Theolia are bidding is a project supported by the Moroccan government-owned l’Office Nationale d’Electricité (ONE). ONE solicited private-sector bids in order to attract investment in clean energy. Morocco’s government has recently shown a strong desire to exploit the country’s wind power potential, in order to reduce its dependence on increasingly costly natural gas imports for incremental power generation.

In order to attract foreign investment, ONE is offering a 20-year power purchase agreement under which ONE would buy the project’s entire electricity output.

These developments augment Tanzania’s announcement last year regarding the development of the country’s first wind farm which is currently under construction. The 50MW project will generate 10% of Tanzania’s current power needs. The company behind the $113m project in Njiapanda is Wind East Africa.

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