In 2011 PURA recieved an application for a Licence to operate a wind farm in The Gambia. This application was reviewed, evaluated and a positive recommendation forwarded to the Hon. Minister for Energy for a Licence to be awarded in accordance with the Electricity Act.
The project comprises of two 450 kVA wind turbines with an investment cost of more than $600,000. The Turbines are Bonus 450 with a hub height of 35m and contain three blades. The rotor diameter is 37m. As part of the installations two step-up transformers as well as a transmission line were constructed to connect with the costal 33kV transmission ring currently operated by the national utiltity company, NAWEC.
The project is relying on historical wind data from the wind measurements from the Batakunku wind turbine which averages at 5.51m/s. The Application suggests that although the wind energy regime is promising, there is also the limitation of a lack of a crane to install turbines above 35m.
Through the Ministry of Energy, UNIDO/GEF provided a grant of 30% of project costs to realise this project due to the savings on CO2 that will be realised. Private sector financing of the project is coming from two wind energy companies in Germany Windstrom GmBH and GeBePro GmBH. The former has in fact has a short experience with wind energy maintenance in The Gambia as they installed the Batakunku pilot project in 2009. The other financiers include Mr. Peter Weissfelt who currently operates the Batakunku Wind pilot project and Mr. Berben who owns an electrical company in The Gambia.
Contruction work at the wind turbine site started in May 2012 with the construction of the foundation and by the mid-August the first turbine was erected. The speed of construction of the project illustrates how wind energy can be used to rapidly meet the sharp increases in demand of electricity in The Gambia.
It must be noted that one of the key criteria for PURA in terms of IPP application is the demonstration of technical competence and that the applicants include two companies with a solid track record on wind energy in Africa and Germany. Skills transfer was also integral in the project implementation as this is a new sub-sector opening up it is important that local capacity in erecting and maintaining wind turbines is built.
All pictures courtesy of GAMWIND Ltd.
Furthermore PURA is of the opinion that by installing such a project, which is renewable, it will further demonstrate that The Gambia does have domestic energy resources and that can be exploited in the MW range. The total installed grid tied wind energy capacity is just over 1MW this would send the right signal to investors as well.