A renewable-powered lighthouse for the ECOWAS region
When ECOWAS made the decision to establish the ECOWAS Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREEE) in Cabo Verde, the rationale was clear: a pipeline of bankable Renewable Energy projects, ongoing legislation, tremendous Renewable Energy potential – notably for wind and solar – and, more important than all, a strong political will. Cabo Verde was set to become a reference point for clean energy in West Africa, and after 9 years of ECREEE’s establishment in the country, the success of the strategy is undeniable.
Our collaboration with the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Energy of Cabo Verde is continuous and fruitful, as is our collaboration with other actors in the clean energy field. This is evident in the recent commissioning of a solar PV mini-grid in Planalto Norte, in the island of Santo Antão, co-funded by ECREEE, or the joint efforts to introduce the first electric vehicles and charging stations in the country. Through programs such as GEF and EREF, multiple facilities are now powered by clean energy and ECREEE’s impact can be felt across the board in urban and rural communities. ECREEE has supported the dissemination of success stories such as the Monte Trigo mini-grid and the Cabeolica wind power plant, the 1stof its kind in ECOWAS. We have also produced case studies based on most existing Renewable Energy power plants in the country, whose lessons and experiences have been shared with a wider audience in the region and beyond.
Cabo Verde is 6thin ECOWAS for total installed Renewable Energy capacity (excluding medium and large hydro), 1stin Renewable Energy capacity per capita and also 1stin penetration of renewables in the overall electricity mix. Moreover, the country’s clean energy ambition has turned 2019 into a particularly important year. Starting with the reshaped micro-generation law approved by Cabinet in November 2018, defining the remuneration scheme for energy injected into the grid and streamlining the procedures and roles to be played by all involved stakeholders. In a moment when distributed generation draws more and more attention, West Africa is looking at what Senegal and Cabo Verde are doing using different approaches to facilitate individuals and companies to invest in clean energy.
Additionally, the National Power Sector Master Plan 2017-2040 was approved by Cabinet last December. The master plan, long awaited by both public and private institutions invested into the sector, has set the tone to the energy future of the country with a target of 54% of renewable energy generation by 2030, to be achieved through solar PV, wind and storage. This should amount to a total installed capacity of 251 MW (currently there are 34 MW installed in the country, while for the entire ECOWAS region the number is 440 MW). The investment requirements have been tallied at 400 million Euros, which the country expects to mobilise using both public and private financing options. Literally, Cabo Verde is open for business – and because actions matter even more than words, the timing for the launch of two tenders for utility scale Renewable Energy projects, a 5 MW solar PV plant in Boa Vista and 10 MW wind farm in Santiago, coinciding with the approval of the Master Plan, sends strong positive signs to the market and will hopefully yield impressive results.
ECREEE, ALER and other actors in West Africa and in the Portuguese-speaking community must play in active role in supporting the country so that those targets are achieved.
Cabo Verde, famous for its historically important geographic location, is positioning itself as a clean energy leader in the region for years to come, bridging the ocean that separates it from mainland West Africa. The future could not look brighter.
Executive Director, ECREEE