Africa is one of the continents with an overabundance of natural and human resources that have not been tapped to the fullest. And one of the countries in Africa with abundant solar energy is Benin. This country may be one of the least developed in West Africa, but no one doubts the efficacy of solar energy in Benin if maximized to the full.
Rates of Energy Consumption in Benin
The entire energy consumption in Benin – as of 2009 – was 3,475 ktoe, as stated by the World Bank. This is approximately half of the average per capita energy consumption for countries in the sub-Saharan region of Africa.
Benin, as a Sub-Saharan African country, covers an area of about 111,000 km2 and is blessed with a population of roughly 10.8 million, according to a report released by the World Bank in 2015.
Like other African countries in the Sub-Saharan region, the energy sector in Benin is, for the most part, dominated by the extensive use of biomass-based energy sources, making up about 59.4 percent. This is followed closely by the use of petroleum products – up to 38.4 percent – and to a much lesser degree, electricity which is about 2.2 percent.
Why Solar Energy in Benin is Not Properly Utilized
Solar energy in Benin was not utilized as the country depends on its many imports to meet the demand for petroleum products. Over 85 percent of Benin’s electricity consumption is met by imports from Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire, and Ghana.
Only one-third of the population of Benin has access to uninterrupted electricity as there is frequent power outage or disruption of service. This is the primary reason why wood continues to be the prime source for cooking.
A change in climate implies higher temperatures which significantly results in more enormous strains on the energy supplies of the entire nation.
Future Plans for the Construction of Solar Power Plants
But lately, a lot of things have started to look up in the renewable energy sector, especially the aspect that has to do with solar energy in Benin. The construction of a mini solar power plant will soon be underway, and the primary goal is to provide electricity to the residents of the Alibori and Borgou regions in the east of the African country.
The small solar power plant – which may cost up to $337,000 to set up – will be built in the village of Bouanri. The construction will feature the following:
- 60 “250 Wp” solar modules
- 12 solar inverters
- 72 batteries for storing electricity.
The solar plant will also be expected to supply power to at least 10 streetlights as well as a drinking water supply. Daily capacity is estimated to be about 20m3.
The solar power plant, when entirely constructed, is expected to be able to deliver uninterrupted electricity to over 200 households in the rural areas. Electricity will be supplied to families through a 3km low-voltage network.
Plans are also underway for the construction of at least four solar power plants, which are expected to deliver up to 50 MW. One of the 10-megawatt plants is to be located in north-western Benin, in Natitingou to be precise while another is to be deployed in the northwest part of the nation, in Djougou.
Two more solar power plants will be deployed in Parakouh and Bohicon, located in southern and northern Benin respectively.
Solar energy in Benin may not be where it should be, given the abundance of this renewable energy. But without doubt, it is not where it used to be.