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Commissioner Piebalgs announces EU support for building the largest solar power plant in West Africa

European Commission

Press release

Brussels, 14 November 2012

Commissioner Piebalgs announces EU support for building the largest solar power plant in West Africa, ahead of energy ministerial meeting in Addis Ababa

Today, EU Development Commissioner Piebalgs announced that the EU will support the construction of what will be the largest African photovoltaic power plant, in Burkina Faso. It will provide 32 gigawatt hours per year, the equivalent of 6% of the country’s current electricity production. This will cover the energy consumption of around 400,000 people. Commissioner Piebalgs made the announcement before departing to Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) where he will attend the Conference of African Energy Ministers and All Africa Energy Week.

Commissioner Piebalgs said: “More than 1 billion people on the planet do not have access to electricity, half of them in Africa. This is one of the greatest brakes on Africa’s development. To unlock this huge potential the EU pledged to connect 500 million people to energy and we put our money where our mouth is. The new solar power plant in Burkina Faso shows that the EU is committed to supporting a much-needed change in Africa’s production of sustainable energy. For Burkina Faso, this means massively improved supply of greener electricity, increased energy independence of the country, and a more secure energy supply for the population”.

Located in Zagtouli, on the outskirts of the capital Ouagadougou, the new power plant will comprise 96,000 solar panels. Currently, only 15% of the Burkinabe population have access to electricity and the country still heavily depends on energy imports. The strong reliance on fossil fuels has a negative impact on the environment. EU support for the power plant amounts to ?25 million; the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the French Development Agency (AFD) provide loans of a total of ?38 million.

The Energy Week in Addis Abbeba (Ethiopia)

On 15 November, Commissioner Piebalgs will take part in a Ministerial round table to discuss challenges for the private sector in the field of energy. He will also have various bilateral meetings with African Ministers for Energy. A joint meeting with Ministers from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Burundi is also foreseen to discuss an energy initiative for the Great Lakes region. On 16 November, Commissioner Piebalgs will address the Conference of Energy Ministers of Africa, which is expected to adopt a declaration containing decisions on continental policies in the energy sector.

EU cooperation on sustainable energy for all

The EU is the biggest donor in energy worldwide. Studies indicate that the EU has invested more than ?2 billion over the last five years on energy projects in developing countries and more than ?1 billion on improving the state of the energy sector in Africa, including efforts to increase access to modern energy services. The EU is engaged, with its partners in the UN-led Sustainable Energy for All Initiative; President José Manuel Barroso pledged that the Commission will assist developing countries in providing energy access for 500 million people by 2030.

The Commission is already turning this pledge in concrete action with an EU Technical Assistance Facility (?65 million), which will support participating developing countries. An additional ?400 million are foreseen to expand and further improve EU innovative financial instruments, which should result in concrete investments on the ground of up to five billion Euros. The financial instruments may cover, for example, support to public-private partnerships on energy access or the development of new business models for sustainable energy investments in rural or off-grid areas. The funding will also help set up guarantee schemes with finance institutions under which parts of the risks for investments will be covered with EU-financed instruments.

For further information

IP/12/372“Energising Development”: Commission’s new initiative to help achieve energy access for all by 2030

“Powering the world – The European Union’s Work on Energy” factsheet

Website of the European Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs:

http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/piebalgs/index_en.htm

Website of EuropeAid Development and Cooperation DG:

http://ec.europa.eu/europeaid/index_en.htm

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