Ethiopia recently unveiled Africa’s largest wind farm! The 120 MW Ashegoda Wind Farm cost the French firm Vergnet SA $290 million to build, and it’s just one part of a greater plan to boost energy production from 2,000 MW to 10,000 MW within the next five years. The facility will help to reduce the occurrence of blackouts in Africa’s second most populous country while diversifying Ethiopia’s energy portfolio and bolstering the country’s role as a key exporter of energy within the region.
The Ashegoda Wind Farm’s completion was made possible with the help of concessional loans from BNP Paribas and the French Development Agency (AFD). The Ethiopian government also played a part in the wind farm’s construction, covering nine percent of the cost. As reported by Al Jazeera, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn outlined the importance of wind power across Ethiopia during a speech at the wind facility’s launch: “Various studies have proved that there is potential to harness abundant wind energy resources in every region of Ethiopia. We cannot maintain growth without utilising the energy sector.”
Experts have estimated that Ethiopia’s hydropower potential hovers around 45,000 MW, while geothermal could provide a more modest 5,000 MW. The country’s wind power potential, on the other hand, is believed to be Africa’s third-largest, eclipsed only by Egypt and Morocco. The 84 turbine wind farm will reduce the country’s reliance on hyrdopower, which can prove an unreliable source of energy, especially during the dry seasons. “It compliments hydropower, which is seasonal. When you have a dry water season we have higher wind speed,” said Mihret Debebe, CEO of the Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation.
While this diversification is a step in the right direction, Ethiopia will still derive more than 50 percent of its energy from hydropower, especially since much of the 12,000MW target will be met by the controversial 6,000MW Grand Renaissance Dam currently under construction on the Nile River. This hasn’t stopped the nation from moving full steam ahead on other renewable energy projects, however; last week the government signed a preliminary agreement with a US-Icelandic firm that plans to invest $4 billion in Ethiopia’s first geothermal farm.
Images by Vergnet SA