Potential in Sierra Leone
In February 2017 Sierra Leone was the first African country to sign the "Energy Africa Policy Compact" with the Government of the UK. As part of the compact, the Energy Revolution initiative was launched, committing to reach 250.000 households with modern energy solutions by 2018. A task force was established and within government and private sector the focus shifted notably to renewable energy, especially solar energy.
According to the "Renewable Energy Policies", the installed capacity of solar PV in the country is about 2.5MWp in 2014.
According to the Ministry of Energy and Water Resources (MEWR), approximately 1460 kWh/m of solar radiation can be expected annually in Sierra Leone. A more optimistic study undertaken by the Joint Research Centre (JRS) of the European Commission portrays Sierra Leone’s solar potential to be as high as 2200 kWh/m.
The potential for Solar PV or solar home systems is great in the country due to the solar radiation and very low access of electricity in the country. Solar street lighting has been installed in all the 14 districts of the country and different development partners have installed solar PV’s in schools, hospitals, district councils and growth centres. The use of solar PV is increasing in the country. A few solar home systems are used for lighting and entertainment; some institutions are using it for water pumping and water heating.
The potential uses and applications of solar energy in Sierra Leone include:
- Solar passive building design practice for residential, commercial and industrial buildings to minimize thermal energy consumed. This includes the energy that is consumed by end-users, as well as that which is embedded in the construction of the building.
- Solar water heating for domestic, recreational, institutional and industrial use.
- Solar space heating -closely related to solar passive and active building design practice and can also include solar water heating technologies.
- Solar cookers as an alternative to cooking with fuelwood in the rural areas.
- Agricultural use (e.g. crop drying, greenhouses), especially for small-scale farming and solar panels for irrigation (water pumping) purposes.
- For electricity (photovoltaic and solar thermal) generation, ranging from small to medium scale stand-alone applications to large-scale grid-connected applications.
- Heat pumps for water heating
Solar Energy Projects
The following list provides examples of solar projects in Sierra Leone:
- Promoting Renewable Energy Services for Social Development (PRESSD) (2014-2018): Installation and operation of 3 solar mini-grids in Segbwema, Panguma and Gbinti, installation of SHS for aprox. 100 charging centres, 20 energy hubs for Agricultural Business Centres, 20 clinics, 12 schools, 12 finanical service associations. Equipment and training for 3 Energy Laboratories in cooperation with Polytechnics. Sales of Pico PV products through local retailers. Partners: European Union, Welthungerhilfe, Cooperazione Internationale, Energy for Opportunity, Oxfam.
- Rural Renewable Energy Project (2017-2020): Installation of a total of 50 smaller (6-36KW) mini-grids and 40 bigger (>36KW) mini-grids, located at health facilities. Development of private companies operation model. Partners: UNOPS, UK Aid.
- Installation of Solar Street Lights: The Ministry of Energy Sierra Leone has installed 8471 solar street lights in the fourteen district headquarter towns across the country. The facilities were handed over to the various district councils, city councils and local councils in 2017.
- The Ministry of Health is implementing the Expanded Programme on Immunization and has installed aprox. 900 solar powered fridges, donated by UNICEF, since 2003 for the purpose of cooling vaccinations across the country. The programme is currently replacing old fridges.
Smaller projects include:
- WASH Consortium:Implementation of solar water pumps for decentralized water supplies. Partners: DFID, Oxfam, Concern, Save the Children, Action against Hunger.
- Biodiversity Conservation Project: Solar Charging Centres to support Biodiversity Conservation. Partners: GEF, World Bank
- Apex Bank Solar Systems: Provision of SHS for Financial Service Associations and Community Banks. Partners: Kafeibu Constructions, IFAD.
- Advancing Partners and Communities: Solar systems for health facilities. Partners: USAID, JICA, JSI, ACF.
- Barefoot Women Solar College: Training centre, courses for illiterate women, installation of Solar Systems for communities. Partners: Barefoot Women, Ministry of Energy.
- Playhouse Foundation/EnDev: SHS for health facilities and schools in Kono and Kailahun.
- Rural Energy Activating Livelihoods (REAL):Provision of electricity and employment options (charging centre) to rural population. Partners. Environmental Foundation for Africa, EU.
- Ministry of Health - Expanded Programme on Immunization: Aprox. 700 solar fridges installed in health centres nationwide, for the purpose of cooling vaccinations. Partners: Ministry of Health and UNICEF.
There are many different types of technologies that use solar energy. They differ in size and technical components. You can find comprehensive information on solar energy technologies on energypedia:
- Pico PV Systems
- Solar Home Systems (SHS)
- Solar pumping
- Solar Dryer (to dry agricultural products)
- Solar Heaters
- Cooking with the Sun
1. Solar Energy Initiatives. Ministry of Energy and Water Resources, 2011.
2. Photovoltaic Solar Electricity Potential in the Mediterranean Basin, Africa, and Southwest Asia. Suri M., Cebecauer, T., Huld T., Dunlop E.D., Wald L., Albuisson M.. Joint Research Centre, 2008.