• BECO has been drawing power from an 8 MW solar power project in Somalia since March 2020, as per a Reuters report
  • The electricity costs in such a short time have reduced for the utility to $0.36 per kWh compared to $0.49 per kWh with this additional solar power in its mix
  • The utility plans to increase it solar power capacity to 100 MW by 2022 but without storage it believes reliance on diesel will continue

The largest electricity supplier in Somalia, BECO has brought online an 8 MW solar power plant which it says makes it the first company in the African country to install solar energy ‘to supply cheap electricity’. In an interview with Reuters, BECO Chief Engineer Mohamud Farah said the utility plans to increase its solar power capacity to 100 MW by 2022 for an investment of $40 million.

The 8 MW project with German and British solar panels was switched on in March 2020 in the city of Mogadishu and has been supplying clean power to its 300,000 customers for 4 hours a day. Balance electricity requirement is being fulfilled by generators.

Even through the project is too recent, BECO says the additional solar power in its mix has already lowered electricity costs to $0.36 per kWh compared to $0.49 per kWh earlier. However, the utility plans to continue its reliance on generators when it reaches the 100 MW goal unless it gets battery energy storage which it considers an expensive proposition for the moment.

Diesel generated electricity is the mainstay of Somalian electricity infrastructure which makes it too expensive for all people to afford. Herein also lies an opportunity for the world of solar to step up its efforts.

As per information available on USAID website last updated on April 16, 2020, Somalia had an installed power generation capacity of 106 MW comprising 100 MW of diesel and 6 MW of solar and wind power capacity. Only 15% of the population has access to electricity.

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) says till the end of 2019, Somalia had total renewable energy capacity of 11 MW.