Mali Turns to Windpower
Aug 23, 2006 - Appropriate Technology
Mali is one of the poorest countries in Africa.
Its electrification rate is just 9 per cent nationwide
and less than one per cent in rural regions. In
2001 the country's total electricity generation
capacity was 140 MW, with half accounted for by
hydroelectric power plants.
While the situation
in the southern part of Mali has considerably improved
in recent years owing to the construction of the
new 200 MW hydroelectric power station Manatali
and the expansion of the national grid, the north
still suffers from extreme underdevelopment.
the Malian energy utility EDM (Energie du Mali SA)
operates small (1-4 MW) diesel-powered isolated
grids in just a few larger towns. For EDM, supplying
electricity to the north is a loss-making business;
the cost of providing electricity to the north is
more than 21 eurocents per kWh, whereas the national
consumption tariff is between 10 and 23 eurocents.
As the substandard electricity supply in the north
presents a major obstacle to economic development,
an important factor for supporting the peace process
in these regions, the Malian government has given
high priority to improving the supply system in
To limit polluting emissions and lower
the cost of electricity generation, the government
is focusing increasingly on renewable energies such
as wind and solar power.
It is also striving to
attract private capital by creating a statutory
framework for liberalising the electricity market
and allowing private-sector generators and electricity
utilities to enter the market.
The Malian government
selected the city of Gao to play a pioneering role.
Gao, the fifth largest town in Mali, has a population
of 40,000 and a 4 MW diesel-powered isolated grid.
Satellite images suggest the conditions are suitable
for wind energy.
To date there is a lack
of wind energy expertise in the country, and the
wind data that is so crucial to attracting investors
is unavailable. Between March 2001 and February
2004, therefore, GTZ conducted wind measurements
and analyses in Gao as part of the TERNA project
(Technical Expertise for Renewable Energy Applications).
Average wind speeds in Gao were 5.0 m/s at a height
of 41 m. Based on these results, EDM, the Direction
National de l'Energie (DNE) and GTZ produced an
energy yield and a feasibility study for a 3 x 300
kW wind farm.
The investment required for such a
wind farm is estimated at [white square] 1.7 million.
The price of diesel fuel in Gao is the central parameter
of the micro- and macro-economic analyses: the cost
of generating electricity in these diesel-fuelled
plants lies at around 21 eurocents per kWh in a
micronomic analysis and under the assumption of
an oil price of 25 USD per barrel. Considering the
latest oil-price increases the cost of electricity
generation in Gao is likely to now be clearly higher.
Assuming a feed-in tariff of 18 eurocents per kWh
or above as well as favourable financing conditions,
the economic efficiency of the planned wind farm
could be guaranteed.
The feasibility study
concludes that considering the high costs of diesel-fuelled
power plants, wind farms can operate efficiently
already from average wind speeds of 5 m/s at hub
From a macroeconomic perspective, wind farms
offer the following advantages:
* The fed-in wind
energy means a lower absolute consumption of diesel
fuel, the cost of which is high due to the long
distances it must travel;
* The capacity of diesel-fuelled
plants that, according to the growth scenarios,
would have to be increased after 2008, can be reduced
correspondingly to the average output of the three
A exploratory shaft was dug at the
site, and soil samples were taken for analysis to
see If the subsoil would take heavy loads such as
wind turbines. The result: turbines with spread
foundations can be installed with no restrictions.
* The use of wind farms will lower CO2 emissions
by 880 tons per year.
Further, the construction
of the wind farms would lead to slightly lower electricity
generation costs in a macronomic analysis. The specific
cost of generating electricity in both diesel- and
wind-powered plants would amount to around 17.5
eurocents per kWh, slightly below that of a purely
Other project impacts:
Local resources can be used, reducing the regions'
dependence on imported diesel fuel;
* The burden
on the environment is lifted thanks to lower pollutant
* The planned wind turbines are a sensible
complement to Mali's already existing micro power
plants that use renewable energy sources;
project supports the Malian government's energy
* The project could become a
pilot facility for other wind farms in Mali or neighbouring
On balance, the wind farm project in
Gao is technically and economically feasible. A
requirement is that its financing be arranged with
the support of international development organisations.
For more information contact Dr. Jens Drillisch,
Deutsche Gesellschaft fr Technische Zusammenarbeit
(GTZ) GmbH, PO Box 5180, D- 65726 Eschborn, Germany.
Tel: +49 (0)6196 79-1380; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org;
web site: www.gtz.de/wind
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