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ECOWAS Status Report

RENEWABLE ENERGY AND ENERGY EFFICIENCY STATUS REPORT 2014 | 41 Sidebar 1. West African Power Pool The West African Power Pool (WAPP) is a cornerstone of the ECOWAS strategy to expand access to affordable, reliable electricity services across the region. IRENA has identified regional and intra-continental renewable energy based power systems as an opportunity to provide cost effective solutions that support continued economic growth.130 Recognising the need for new and improved power sector infrastructure across ECOWAS, WAPP was created in 1999 to serve as a regional body dedicated to the promotion and development of power transmission and generation facilities in the ECOWAS Member States. WAPP supports domestic infrastructure development as well as inter-country connections allowing for the cross- border trade of electricity within the region. This has allowed countries such as Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Mali and Nigeria to become net electricity exporters within the region, simultaneously providing an opportunity for neighbouring countries to overcome capacity-demand gap challenges.131 By facilitating the development of an integrated regional electricity market, WAPP will play an important role in expanding access to affordable energy services, increasing the security of energy supply, and decreasing dependence on fossil fuel resources through increased efficiency and by overcoming a number of barriers to expanded renewable energy penetration. The expanded regional power network being developed under WAPP allows the ECOWAS Member States to overcome a number of economic and technical challenges associated with renewable power. Financially, WAPP presents opportunities to reduce the cost and financing constraints that often limit deployment of renewable energies in the region. Power pool projects in ECOWAS and elsewhere on the continent have the ability to reduce capital and operating costs by improving coordination between utilities; allowing for the development of larger, more cost-effective infrastructure than could be supported by the needs of the immediate area where a resource is located; and improving the ease of financing new projects by reducing investment risk.132 These are all particularly acute issues in the development of renewable power systems, as financing remains one of the greatest barriers to renewable development in ECOWAS and around the world. The expanded grid network can also balance a number of technical challenges, allowing for more stable and reliable access to renewable energy resources. Although each ECOWAS Member State has significant renewable energy potential, these resources are not evenly distributed. (See Chapter 2.) WAPP allows resources to be tapped where available and utilised throughout the region. These benefits can also advantage variable renewable resources such as wind and solar, which can be developed in zones where resource potential is particularly strong, generating higher output. System stability is further strengthened by the development of a regional power infrastructure network. Integrated systems making use of multiple technologies can help deal with periods of reduced output from a specific technology. Additionally, enabling variable renewable energy installations to be spread over a large geographic area can increase the amount of firm capacity available from a given technology. Regional diversity in project citing decreases the impact of any specific localised events or weather conditions on region-wide system output. Reliability of service—for renewable and non-renewable sources— can also be improved through the regional system by allowing for greater access to backup facilities which can be utilised to make up for unplanned plant outages or reduced output from variable renewable sources.133 Overall, WAPP stands to play a central role in accelerating deployment of renewable energy sources and meeting the energy needs of ECOWAS Member States. Throughout ECOWAS, renewables have long played a significant role in supplying power for activities like water pumping. In the Gambia, the main application of solar, used in the country since the 1980s, has been for on-site water pumping; Gam-Solar has installed solar pumping systems in nearly 80 villages, providing potable water to more than 200,000 people.134 The Gambia Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Project, expected to be completed by end-2014, plans to install 18 solar-powered drilled boreholes and pumping units, with financing from the AfDB. The Gam-Solar for Horticulture project (8.4 kW) aims to pump water to community- owned gardens and to provide surplus energy to local schools.135 A solar-wind hybrid water pumping installation in Mali, supported by the GEF Small Grants Program and Implemented by the Mali- Folkecenter, will pump water for sale, train local technicians in operations and maintenance, and stimulate economic development.136 Mali also has an estimated 150 small-scale wind mills for pumping water and other uses.137 In Niger, experience with wind generation is limited to water pumping; IRENA estimates that about 30 small-scale wind pumping installations operate throughout the country, mostly implemented with donor and community financing.138 RENEWABLE ENERGY MARKET AND INDUSTRY OVERVIEW 02 WIND AND SOLAR FOR WATER PUMPING Source: see endnote 134 for this section.

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