UAE solar know-how lights up rural Mauritanian communities

NOUAKCHOTT, 27th November, 2016 (WAM) – The UAE has brought solar power to rural communities in Mauritania, in a display of the Emirate’s world-class energy technologies.

Eight new rural solar energy projects have been completed, and are now operational, across the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, in western North Africa, doubling the UAE’s contribution to the country’s clean energy capacity, as it reaches 31.6 megawatts (MW).

Delivered by Masdar, the Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company, in collaboration with Mauritania’s national electricity provider, Societe Mauritanienne d’Electricite (SOMELEC), the 16.6MW of additional solar power will supply up to 30 percent of the electricity demand of the remote communities of Boutilimit, Aleg, Aioune, Akjoujt, Atar, El Chami, Boulenour and Bani Chab.

Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, President of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, inaugurated the projects in the city of Atar, one of the sites of the eight photovoltaic power plants, at an event coinciding with Mauritania’s National Day celebrations on November 28, and UAE National Day on December 2.

Also present were Dr. Mohamed Abdul Fattah, Minister of Petroleum, Energy and Mines of Mauritania, Essa Abdulla Massoud Al Kalbani, the UAE ambassador to the country, as well as senior management from Masdar and SOMELEC.

The eight new plants will increase local energy security by providing safe and reliable clean power to communities not connected to the national electricity grid. By increasing the productivity of local power grids, they will reduce dependency on diesel-fuelled electricity generators, saving on fuel costs and lowering carbon dioxide emissions.

Altogether, the projects will power some 39,000 homes, save up to 10,391,000 litres of diesel fuel and displace up to 27,850 tonnes of carbon emissions annually.

Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, UAE Minister of State and Chairman of Masdar, noted, “This inauguration is another landmark in the longstanding cooperation between the United Arab Emirates and the Islamic Republic of Mauritania. The new solar plants reaffirm the UAE’s leadership commitment to diversifying and extending access to energy across the globe, in an effort to drive sustainable development.”

He added, “The eight projects bring economic and social benefits to Mauritania, providing opportunities for training and knowledge-exchange and creating the foundations for long-term growth and development for the local community.”

Dr. Mohamed Abdul Fattah, Minister of Petroleum, Energy and Mines of Mauritania, also stressed the importance of the solar power plants to Mauritania’s sustainable development efforts.

“These projects contribute to the government’s energy and economic diversification strategy. Our drive to implement a series of ambitious wind, hydroelectric and solar power projects will contribute significantly to growing the share of renewables in Mauritania’s future energy mix,” he said.

The Minister also congratulated Masdar and SOMELEC for the quick and efficient implementation of the projects in hard-to-reach and challenging environments.

Essa Abdulla Massoud Al Kalbani, the UAE Ambassador to Mauritania, added, “These projects illustrate why the UAE, through Masdar, is a benchmark for others when it comes to accelerating the adoption of renewable energy in developing countries. In Mauritania, we are able to support a sector that will catalyse wider infrastructure development and further stimulate the country’s sustainable development.”

Mohamed Jameel Al Ramahi, Chief Executive Officer of Masdar, added, “Our achievements in Mauritania are a testament to the technological expertise and project management experience Masdar has accumulated during the past 10 years. Today, Masdar is one of the largest installers of off-grid renewable energy in the world.

“One of the key drivers of this project’s success has been the level of collaboration between Masdar and SOMELEC, which enabled us to overcome all obstacles. We are looking forward to working with our Mauritanian partners in the future to implement other renewable energy projects.”

Masdar was selected as SOMELEC’s preferred partner, following the successful delivery of the 15MW Sheikh Zayed Solar Power Plant in the Mauritanian capital Nouakchott in 2013, the first solar project in the country and the largest solar plant of its kind in Africa at the time of completion.