Access to dependable, long-term energy is critical for economic progress and human development. In 2020, the worldwide wind sector installed a record 93 GW of new capacity, a 53% increase over 2019. This is according to a report by the global wind energy council. The research estimates that by 2021, about 743 GW of wind power will be installed worldwide. This has the potential to help the world avoid about 1.1 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide annually, which is more than the 994.70 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e) emitted by all of West Africa in 2014 and twice as much as all of South Africa’s emissions combined in 2018. The International Finance Corporation (IFC) commissioned a study in 2020 to evaluate the potential for wind energy in Africa. The study’s findings revealed that the continent’s electricity needs could be met 250 times over by wind energy, which has an incredible technical wind potential of almost 180,000 terawatt hours (TWh) annually. Like many other African regions, West Africa faces significant challenges in meeting its energy demands, with wind energy having a high potential to deliver energy to satisfy this need and bridge the energy gap. Wind energy has gained popularity in recent years as a feasible method for improving energy availability in the region. With references to reputable sources, this article investigates the potential of wind energy technology in West Africa, assesses prospective energy output, and evaluates its influence on climate change mitigation.
West Africa has tremendous wind energy generating potential, with the ability to significantly contribute to the region’s energy demands. Several studies and analyses have examined this possibility, stressing the extraordinary rise projected by 2030. The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) published a report named “West Africa Renewable Energy Roadmap” that evaluated the region’s renewable energy potential, including wind energy. Their estimates indicate that West Africa might generate more than 30,000 megawatts (MW) of wind power capacity by 2030. The Katsina Wind Farm project is one of Nigeria’s premier wind energy efforts in Katsina State. The Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading (NBET) Plc. project seeks to build a 10 MW wind power station. The Katsina Wind Farm is part of the Nigerian government’s initiative to enhance renewable energy’s portion of the country’s power-generating mix. The Nigerian Renewable Energy Master Plan (REMP) lays out measures for encouraging renewable energy development throughout the country. The strategy includes an emphasis on wind energy, with the northern area, notably states like Katsina Kano, Sokoto, and Jigawa, being identified as having the greatest wind energy potential. In addition, Nigeria has introduced a Feed-in Tariff (FiT) policy to stimulate investment in renewable energy sources such as wind. The FiT guarantees payment for wind power generated and supplied into the grid over a certain period of time. The goal of this policy framework is to encourage private sector engagement and the development of wind energy projects in the country.
Senegal also has favourable wind resources along its coastline. The government has taken moves to capitalize on its wind potential. For example, the Parc Eolien Taiba N’Diaye wind farm is a large project in the works. It is anticipated to have a capacity of 158.7 MW and will be made up of 46 wind turbines. Lekela Power is developing the project, which is expected to contribute considerably to Senegal’s renewable energy targets. Ghana has an abundance of wind resources that might be utilized to generate enormous amounts of power. In 2004, the Solar and Wind Energy Resource Assessment (SWERA) project, which was carried out in partnership with the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), UNEP, and the Global Environment Facility, identified specific locations along Ghana’s coastline that may sustain wind power generation. The best wind resources, classed as good to exceptional, are generally located along Ghana’s eastern coastline and on the hills surrounding Lake Volta and the Ghana-Togo border.
The Ayitepa Wind Farm, which is being constructed by Mainstream Renewable Power, is one prominent project. It has a capacity of 225 MW and is made up of 75 wind turbines. The initiative intends to help Ghana meet its renewable energy objectives. Cape Verde has an abundance of wind resources. The country has made significant progress in wind energy production, with multiple wind farms already operational. The Cabeólica Wind Farm, with a total capacity of 25.5 MW, is a significant example. The Cabeólica Wind Project, which was completed between December 2011 and July 2012, consists of four tiny, distinct wind parks on four of Cabo Verde’s nine inhabited islands.
Impact on Emission Reduction and Change Climate Mitigation
Wind energy technology adoption in West Africa has the potential to contribute to climate change mitigation efforts greatly. Wind energy projects may significantly cut greenhouse gas emissions by substituting fossil fuel-based electricity generation.
Wind energy deployment in West Africa might result in an annual reduction of about 18 million tonnes of CO2 emissions by 2030, according to a thorough analysis undertaken by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Climate Technology Centre & Network (CTCN).
Conclusion and Recommendations
Unlocking West Africa’s wind energy potential provides a game-changing approach to long-term energy access and climate change mitigation. West Africa can fuel economic growth, increase energy security, and battle climate change due to its significant wind resources and the ability to create tens of thousands of megawatts of clean power.
The following guidelines are critical for adequately realizing this potential
1. Policy Support: Governments should adopt clear and supportive policies that encourage wind energy investments, such as feed-in tariffs, tax breaks, and faster regulatory processes.
2. Capacity Building: Efforts should be made to improve technical skills through training programmes, workshops, and knowledge-sharing platforms. This will ensure a qualified workforce capable of planning, building, and maintaining wind power plants.
3. Public-Private Partnerships: Encouraging cooperation between governments, international organizations, and private sector entities can help to speed wind energy implementation in the region by leveraging resources and knowledge.
4. Infrastructure Development: Transmission and distribution infrastructure investment is critical for efficiently integrating wind power into the existing energy grid and delivering electricity to end customers.
5. Community Involvement: Wind energy projects should engage local communities in the planning and decision-making processes. This encourages ownership, secures societal approval, and promotes equal benefit distribution. Community engagement programmes may be set up to educate and teach communities about the benefits of wind energy and address any concerns or misunderstandings they may have.