June 2018

Energy for growth

By Cherif Ouazani
The current supply is nowhere near enough to cover the country’s needs, estimated at over 1,000 megawatts by 2020 and beyond. Hence the scale of the projects underway.
The electricity interconnection between the Ethiopian and Djiboutian grids came into service in 2011. Financed by the African Development Bank (AfDB) to the tune of $50 million, this regional infrastructure delivers 60 MW daily, while the Boulaos power plant has seen its production capacity increase from 25 to 40 MW. However, demand is being driven up by the pace at which Djibouti’s economy is developing, the construction of new port infrastructure, the country’s industrialisation projects, the new rail link between Djibouti and Addis Ababa, which is fully electrified, and the unrelenting rate of urbanisation. The current supply of 100 MW is wanting at a time when needs are estimated at over 1,000 MW by 2020 and beyond.
A wind farm
To deal with this situation, numerous investments have been made, particularly in green energy. One of these is the Grand Bara solar power plant, developed in partnership with Germany’s Green Enesys, with a budget of €360 million for a total capacity of 300 MW (50 MW in the first phase of the project). Another is the 60 MW wind farm project planned in Goubet, which is currently in the feasibility study phase. In terms of rural electrification, two mini solar power plants have been set up in Adaïlou, in the Tadjourah region (100 PV kilowatts) commissioned in 2016, and in As-Eyla, in the Dikhil region (150 PV kilowatts), which should become operational during the third quarter of 2018. 
President IOG’s ambition is to meet 85% of his country’s energy needs through renewable energy. If we calculate according to the needs forecast for 2020 and beyond, this represents 850 MW. Is he being overambitious? Yes, if we only take solar or wind power plants into account. Djibouti’s hopes run wider and deeper, down into the depths of the arid soil of this coastal desert. Deep underground lie infinite reserves of free energy: geothermal energy. All studies confirm that the potential is enormous. The first experiment starts in June 2018. With $31 million in funding from the World Bank, the initial drilling will be the first attempt at developing the country’s geothermal potential, an inexhaustible source of thousands of megawatts per year. Meanwhile, a second interconnection with the Ethiopian grid is envisaged. Studies are almost complete and negotiations for financing are underway with an Indian partner. The giant Damerjog gas terminal project foresees a 150 MW gas-fired power plant that will be commissioned in 2021, while the desalination plant built by France’s Eiffage includes a 50 MW power plant to run it.
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