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General News of Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Source: Cameroon Tribune

Electricity: The contribution of renewable energy

"The real challenges to which we must find solutions quickly are those relating to the choice of the best mix energy for our country, optimal schema for efficient management of our network of transportation and the financial model more relevant to attract investment and ensure the financial stability of the sector”.

Says Joël Nana Kontchou, Director general of Eneo Cameroon, on 28 April in Douala at the inauguration of the Bassa-Logbaba gas plant, with a capacity of 50 MW. The energy 'mix' term therefore refers to the way in which a country includes fossil (fuel, natural gas) and renewable energy (wind, hydraulic, solar...).

With a total installed capacity of 1292 MW, the mix of energy production of Cameroon consists of 57% of hydraulic power source, 21% of thermal springs in the gas, 10% of heat source to light fuel oil and 13% of heat source to heavy fuel oil.

This installed capacity takes into account the Eneo (990 MW) and independent producers namely the Dibamba Power Development Company (DPDC) with its Yassa Dibamba plant (86 MW to heavy fuel oil) and the Kribi Power Development Company (KPDC) with its plant of Kribi (216 MW gas).

The current state, the energy mix of Cameroon is not the most appropriate in the opinion of the players in the sector. This is due to the high cost of fuel, which weighs on rates and the impact of thermal power plants (designed as an extra solution) fuel on the environment. The aim is to achieve a mix that gives more room to gas and deemed renewable energy less expensive and non-polluting.

The promotion of renewable energies precisely was discussed in recent weeks. Cameroon has actually several renewable energy sources exploitable, notably for the production of electricity.

It's hydraulic power (from the many rivers and streams filled with our country), energy from biomass (agricultural and forest residues, food waste, organic materials from municipal and industrial waste), solar energy (with a potential ranging from 4 kWh/m2/day in the southern part of the country to 6kWh/m2/day in the northern part), wind power (with favourable wind speeds higher than 2 m/s in Kaélé and Lake Chad regions (, and up to 6, 6 m/s on Mt. Bamboutos), geothermal energy (with a potential in the localities of Meiganga, Tignère, Ekondo Titi and Nwa located between the 7th and the 8th Meridian) Finally, marine energies (of waves, tides, undercurrents, which the potential is found along the southwestern Atlantic coast of the country).

Eneo Cameroon plans to build photovoltaic plants which will come in support of existing diesel plants. It will be hybrid plant (solar day source) and thermal springs in the evening. The project will take place in several phases. During the first phase, solar power plants will be developed in the communities of Djoum, Lomié, Bertoua, Yokadouma, and Ngaoundal.

In a second phase, the project will cover other isolated communities. This is in order to reduce expenses in fuel and improve the coverage of demand. This project follows a study by the company about 25 stations isolated powered diesel it manages throughout the territory. A study which revealed that the demand for electricity grows 5%, and that the current production fleet is aging and that demand is constrained by the insufficient production capacity.

In addition, due to a system of uniform tariffs, Eneo-Cameroon applies the same rate despite the fact that the cost of returns is two to four times greater than the average electricity rate per kWh.

In his presentation on the 'Government strategy for the promotion of renewable energies', at the Council's Cabinet in April, the Minister of water and energy (whose department houses a Directorate dedicated to renewable energy since 2012) spoke of the solar mini-hydropower project in 166 locations in medium-term and 1000 localities which is underway throughout the national territory.

This, one must add projects which concern the promotion of biogas and whose objective is to increase the share of renewables in the energy mix of Cameroon. A renewable energy development plan is being developed. For the time being, as prescribed at the Council's Office, it is question of completing the work on the adaptation of the legal framework for renewable energy and the update in conjunction with the administrations of the pane renewable energies of the Development Plan for the electricity sector.