Total Eren, AEMP and IAMGOLD Essakane SA are pleased to announce that the grand opening ceremony of Essakane Solar, the world’s largest hybrid solar/thermal plant, was held on 16 March in Northern Burkina Faso.
The new 15 MWp photovoltaic (PV) power plant will supply IAMGOLD Essakane SA with competitive and carbon-free electricity.
The ceremony was attended by his Excellency Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, President of Burkina Faso, Oumarou Idani, Minister of Mines and Quarries, Bachir Ismaël Ouédraogo, Minister of Energy, and other members of the Government of Burkina Faso, as well as representatives of local communities.
Made of close to 130 000 photovoltaic panels, the 15 MWp solar power plant (Essakane Solar) will be added to the existing 57 MW heavy fuel oil (HFO) power plant, creating the largest hybrid PV-HFO plant in the world and one of the largest solar facilities in sub-Saharan Africa.
The construction of the solar plant, managed by Wärtsilä, commenced 10 months ago.
Approximately 75 people from nearby communities were hired for the construction works and Essakane Solar will now employ 40 permanent staff for the next 15 years.
The IAMGOLD Essakane SA gold mine is one of the largest privately-held companies in the country, producing 389 000 ounces of gold attributable to IAMGOLD in 2017.
Due to its isolated location, the mine is currently off-grid and relies solely on HFO. In this context, IAMGOLD Essakane SA put forward a progressive sustainability agenda and moved forward with the project sponsor, Total Eren, a global renewable energy independent power producer (IPP), and AEMP, a developer and independent power producer, to add solar capacity to its existing power system.
The 15 MWp solar project will help decrease the mine’s fuel consumption by approximately 6 million litres per year and reduce its annual CO2 emissions by nearly 18 500 tons.
Essakane Solar has moreover engaged procedures to register carbon credits generated by the project at the United Nations program.
“The transition to generating more of our energy from renewable sources has been central to IAMGOLD’s new energy strategy for several years now,” says IAMGOLD president and CEO, Stephen Letwin.
“The inauguration of the largest hybrid solar/thermal power plant in the world is a new milestone in innovation and excellence, and one of which we are particularly proud.
“Essakane’s entrance into the clean energy era speaks volumes about its long-term commitment to sustainable development.”
Fabienne Demol, executive vice-president – global head of business development of Total Eren, comments: “This ceremony sets a long-lasting footprint for Total Eren in Burkina Faso and confirms our ability to collaborate, together with our partner AEMP, with mining companies and address their energy needs.
“IAMGOLD has successfully taken up the challenge of bringing renewable power to mines and we demonstrated that, with the help of strong technical and financial partners, with enough flexibility and creativity to come up with innovative business and structuring models and with the continuous support of the national decision makers and local communities, we can execute reliable and effective solutions for competitive power supply, even in the most remote areas.”
Richard Duffy, co-founder, AEMP, highlights: “The inauguration of the Essakane Solar Plant confirms the contribution renewable energy can make to support the competitiveness of the mining sector in Burkina Faso and elsewhere in Africa.
“It is the result of our long-standing partnership with Total Eren and testimony to IAMGOLD’s leadership in renewable energy for mining. Support from the Government of Burkina Faso has been instrumental in making this project viable and bodes well for similar future projects. Together with Total Eren, we are committed to increasing our investment in Burkina Faso’s energy sector as part of our continued support for the country’s focus on attracting additional mining investment,” he concludes.