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ITANIA By: Nicholas Paul Griffin


or more than 40 years, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has provided considerable assistance to infrastructure and welfare projects in developing countries around the world. For these nations, a lack of access to energy represents a serious barrier to sustained social and economic development. Under the guidance of the UAE government, Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy company, Masdar, is leading the way in helping developing countries improve access to clean and sustainable sources of energy.

Renewable Energy Investment in sustainable energy can serve as a key tool in kick-starting growth, trade and infrastructure development. In order to make smart development choices, countries must look beyond responses to cyclical fluctuations in commodity prices and deliver projects that support sustainable, long-term prosperity. From its Abu Dhabi base, Masdar has demonstrated continued support for countries across the continent committed to improving the living standards of their citizens through increased economic opportunity. In 2013, Masdar delivered the Sheikh Zayed Solar Power Plant in Mauritania’s capital city, Nouakchott. At the time of its inauguration, the plant was the largest of its kind in Africa, with the potential to significantly contribute to Mauritania’s energy capacity.

to reinvesting its hydrocarbon wealth to aid countries in their efforts to develop their economies and alleviate poverty. In recent years, the UAE has invested heavily in renewable energy projects, a commitment that represents just one small part of the nation’s significant efforts in helping the developing world. As renewable energy technologies have become more commercially viable, an increasing number of countries are exploring solar and wind power options as a means of improving energy security and protecting themselves from fluctuations in fuel prices. With ready access to solar and wind energy resources, Mauritania has the potential to derive a significant portion of its electricity capacity from clean, sustainable and reliable sources of energy. Through this project, and others like it, Masdar is committed to improving energy access and demonstrating that renewable energy can serve as a foundation for economic development and social opportunity.

Electricity Shortfalls Mauritania’s electricity grid, which is powered mostly by expensive diesel generators, currently has an installed capacity of only 144 megawatts, meaning it has so far experienced severe energy shortages.

This 15MW solar photovoltaic (PV) power plant is the first utility-scale solar power installation in the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, and accounts for 10% of Mauritania’s grid capacity.

With the country’s energy demand increasing by 12% annually, the addition of solar power will help to meet future electricity shortfalls and supply the energy demands of approximately 10,000 homes.

The Sheikh Zayed Solar Power Plant stands as a testament to the UAE’s steady commitment

The plant has actually produced more energy than was originally estimated, accounting


Sheikh Zayed Solar Power Plant · Mauritania

Sheikh Zayed Power Plant was the largest solar PV plant in Africa when connected to the grid in March 2013

Renewable Energy

Sheikh Zayed Solar Power Plant for an annual increase in demand, resulting in additional savings being made. Producing more than 44 gigawatt-hours since April 2013, the plant has reduced generator load during peak sun hours, resulting in reduced powerfailure rates. The plant, which consists of 29,826 micromorph thin-film panels, was built using innovative and sustainable construction practices, and promises to displace approximately 21,225 tonnes of carbon dioxide every year.

The project engineers designed the support structure for the PV modules to be piled into the ground instead of using a concrete foundation, which further reduced the project’s carbon footprint and overall cost. The plant will ensure further beneficial environmental impacts by saving 7 million litres of diesel fuel each year. The overall result will be a significant reduction of Mauritania’s carbon footprint through the use of reliable and cost-effective renewables. Aspire Africa · July/Aug 2016


The 15 MW solar plant accounts for 10 per cent of Mauritania’s grid capacity

Displaces approximately 21,225 tons of carbon dioxide annually

The Project consists of 29,826 micromorph thin-film panels manufactured by Masdar PV


Sheikh Zayed Solar Power Plant ¡ Mauritania

The project covers a land area of 300,000 square meters

In addition to these impressive environmental features, wood from the project’s construction was donated to a local NGO called AIDE, helping to support its operations within Mauritania. Masdar has collaborated closely with the Mauritanian Electricity Company (SOMELEC) to successfully realize the project, with Mauritania keen to promote better energy access in order to accelerate economic and social development. Better electrification networks powered by sustainable energy will increase opportunity for the country’s population to access basic services. Cheaper and more reliable energy supplies will also aid infrastructure

Renewable Energy development and economic growth potential. The Sheikh Zayed Solar Power plant has significantly diversified Mauritania’s energy resources and has the potential to ensure greater energy resilience. All of this has been achieved through the deployment of advanced and commercially viable technology. In the years to come, renewable energy will increasingly contribute to the energy mix in developing countries where access to conventional energy is limited. With energy demand expected to nearly double by 2030, renewable energy will play an increasingly important role, especially in countries where demand is rapidly outstripping supply.

Inauguration ceremony attended by HE Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, President of Mauritania

Aspire Africa · July/Aug 2016


Supplies the demand of nearly 10,000 homes in Nouakchott

Renewable Energy

Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, Chairman, Masdar, speaking at the inauguration of the Project

Masdar The success of the Sheikh Zayed Solar Power plant underscores the important role renewable energy can play in driving comprehensive sustainable development in Africa, and brings to light Masdar’s position as a major player in the process. The Mubadala Development Company, which is owned by the Abu Dhabi government, established Masdar as a wholly owned subsidiary in 2006, with the intention of advancing the clean energy industry in Abu Dhabi and around the world. The company is guided by The Abu Dhabi 8

Sheikh Zayed Solar Power Plant ¡ Mauritania

Economic Vision 2030, a program designed to drive new sources of income for the emirate, as well as strengthening its knowledge-based economic sectors. Masdar continues to develop numerous other renewable energy projects with the aim of helping improve energy access in the developing world. Notable projects include eleven innovative small-scale projects in the Pacific region. These small-scale projects added a total renewable energy capacity of 6.5-megawatts to the island states and replaced 3.2 million litres of imported diesel fuel, the result being the displacement of 8,447 tonnes of CO2 emission annually.

Sheikh Zayed Solar Power Plant at dusk In addition to direct project assistance across Africa, Masdar has also helped to spur the development of renewable energy through the Zayed Future Energy Prize, which recognized and empowered innovators in renewable energy and sustainability. One incredible success story from this project is the work of the Kenyan firm M-KOPA, winner of the SME category of the Zayed Future Energy Prize in 2015, delivering off-grid solutions to communities in Africa. The prize is an excellent example of the levels of innovation being employed to find solutions to Africa’s energy needs, and goes into its 9th cycle this year, with submissions closing on 27th June 2016. ASPIRE Aspire Africa ¡ July/Aug 2016

9 Masdar City, Presidential Flight, Khalifa City A, Abu Dhabi, UAE P.O. Box 54115 Tel: +971 2 653 3333 Fax: +971 2 653 6002

Sheikh Zayed Solar Power Project, Mauritania | Project Focus  

Showcasing Masdar's Renewable Energy Project in the North West African capital of Nouakchott.

Sheikh Zayed Solar Power Project, Mauritania | Project Focus  

Showcasing Masdar's Renewable Energy Project in the North West African capital of Nouakchott.