Thanks to Masdar, a renewable energy company based in Abu Dhabi, the West African nation of Mauritania is now home to the continent’s largest power plant. Valued at $31.9 million, the 15-megawatt solar photovoltaic (PV) power plant accounts for 10 percent of Mauritania’s energy capacity and will displace about 21,225 tons of carbon dioxide produced […]
Thanks to Masdar, a renewable energy company based in Abu Dhabi, the West African nation of Mauritania is now home to the continent’s largest power plant.
Valued at $31.9 million, the 15-megawatt solar photovoltaic (PV) power plant accounts for 10 percent of Mauritania’s energy capacity and will displace about 21,225 tons of carbon dioxide produced in the nation annually.
Before the solar power plant — named the Sheikh Zayed Solar Power Plant — was up and running, Mauritania encountered severe energy shortages. Powered mostly by expensive diesel generators, the African nation struggled to keep up with increasing energy demands, which have risen by about 12 percent annually.
The hope is that the new solar power plant will not only alleviate electricity shortfalls that affect about 10,000 homes, but will help promote economic development and alleviate poverty with renewable energy programs.
“Energy access is a pathway to economic and social opportunity,” said Mauritania’s President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz during the inauguration of the solar plant. “Electrification, through sustainable sources of energy, is critical in ensuring our people have access to basic services and is a step toward improving our infrastructure and long-term economic development.
“This new solar power plant not only provides much needed grid capacity for our people, it also proves that renewable energy can play a major role in the development of our country.”
The question of how to grow a national economy without relying on fossil fuels has been a concern for developing nations like Mauritania. Thanks to advances in solar power technology, solar power equipment has become more affordable and accessible, and is increasingly a viable option. Though the technology has become easier to implement in recent years, several larger nations such as Brazil, India, China and the U.S. continue to rely on fossil fuels.
The Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental action organization, estimates that solar energy could be cheaper than conventional electricity in many parts of the U.S. by the end of the decade. Falling renewable energy costs might not only ease pressure on consumers’ pocketbooks — the organization estimates that growth in the industry could also lead to the creation of hundreds of thousands of jobs in the U.S.