ECOWAS Wind Energy Workshop


The ECOWAS Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREEE), in collaboration with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the Ministry of Tourism, Industry and Energy of Cape Verde and CABEOLICA are jointly organizing a five-day workshop on wind power development from 4 to 8 of November 2013, in Praia, Cape Verde. The workshop is undertaken under the umbrella of the knowledge management and capacity development component of the GEF Strategic Programme for West Africa.

The event will feature a two-day technical forum on the status of on-grid and off-grid wind power technologies and potential market opportunities in the ECOWAS region. Moreover, a three-day training on wind power project development will introduce technical experts in the software tools WindPRO and WAsP. The training course includes lessons on wind measurement, site assessment, calculation of power curves, project design, as well as environmental and social impact assessment. It is expected that more than one hundred participants from ECOWAS and international organizations will attend the workshop, including policy makers, utilities, rural electrification agencies, regional authorities, practitioners, equipment manufacturers, as well as financiers and bankers. The workshop is a contribution of ECOWAS to the UN Goal on Universal Access to Sustainable Energy Services by 2030.

Wind energy can contribute significantly to meet the electricity needs of urban areas as well as isolated rural areas. Wind energy is one of the most advanced and cost-effective renewable energy technologies. It is considered reliable, the cost of installed KW is decreasing and is independent of the energy price volatility associated with plants using fossil fuels. Wind farms have usually a life time of more than twenty years without major maintenance. Grid-connected large wind farms can improve energy security through the reduction of fossil fuel import dependency, diversification of the energy mix and reduction of electricity shortages. It can help to meet the rapid growth of electricity demand in urban centers and industry. Small scale wind turbines (of some KW) combined in a hybrid solution with another renewable energy technologies (solar, small hydro, etc) can also contribute significantly to meet the electricity needs for isolated rural communities in ECOWAS Region. In addition to provision of electricity to rural and isolated communities, low wind speeds can also be exploited to provide water pumping to increase access to clean water. The wind power assessment executed by ECREEE identified attractive wind sites in Cape Verde, Cote d'Ivoire, Senegal, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Ghana, Mali, Niger, Togo, Benin and Burkina Faso. The GIS based wind assessment is available at the ECOWAS Observatory for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency ( ), It gives investors an overview on the wind power market potential and attractive sites near to transmission lines and highly populated settlements. 

So far only Cape Verde is taking advantage of its technical and economic feasible grid-connected wind power potential. In 2012, with the installation of five wind farms in different islands with a total installed capacity of 26 MW, Cape Verde reached 25% of wind energy penetration on the electricity mix production, with strong impact in the economy of the energy sector, totally dependent on the imported fuel. This fact demonstrates that wind energy is technically and economically feasible and could play an important role on the energy development process in West Africa. Major wind power projects are also under development in Senegal and Ghana. In Cape Verde and Gambia first medium-scale wind power IPPs are in operation. The off-grid wind power market is apart from some wind power water pumping projects  very weakly developed. The challenges that wind energy developers are facing are many and most of them are part of the larger picture of general barriers for the uptake of renewable energy.

In previous decades, the utilities of the ECOWAS region mainly focused on large energy systems namely large diesel engines and large hydropower. Also international financiers (e.g. development banks, trust funds) targeted mainly large scale projects in the context of regional power trade such as the West African Power Pool (WAPP). With the adoption of the ECOWAS White Paper on access to energy services for peri-urban and rural areas in 2005, renewable energy sources such as wind energy are getting more attention. The White Paper recommended that at least 20% of new energy investments in rural and peri-urban areas should originate from renewable energy sources.

Despite its potential mainly in all West African sea coasts, the contribution of wind energy to the energy mix in the region remains very low. The case of Cape Verde, where wind energy penetration reached more than 20% of total electricity production in 2012, indicates an opportunity for the region to establish strong commitment to implementation of a Wind Energy Program for the ECOWAS Region. The ECOWAS Renewable Energy Policy (EREP) approved by the 43rd Ordinary Summit of the ECOWAS Heads of State and Government in Abuja, Nigeria in July  2013 established the following targets for grid connected wind power development by 2020 and 2030:

  • Installed capacity: 318 MW by 2020; 993 MW by 2030
  • Energy production: 836 GWh by 2020; 2,314 GWh by 2030
  • Investments: 541 million Euros up to 2020; 1,540 million Euros up to 2030.

Apart from the grid connected targets, the EREP established also targets for off-grid and standalone renewable energy projects to support rural electrification and water pumping for more than 71.4 million inhabitants living in rural communities by 2020 and 104 million by 2030. The contribution of wind energy to this process is expected to be very significant. To achieve these very ambitious targets, ECREEE is formulating a strategy for promoting and developing wind energy technology in the region that would be the focus of the workshop. The objectives of the workshop are to:

  • formulate a strategic framework for wind power development in the ECOWAS region;
  • update participants on the state of the art of on-grid and off-grid windpower technologies; and
  • elaborate a realistic regional action plan to address the existing barriers.

It is expected that the workshop will produce the following practical results and deliverables:

  • A Strategic framework for the development of the ECOWAS wind power market;
  • An overview on the state of the art of on-grid and off-grid wind power technolgies;
  • A regional action plan to address the existing barriers for wind power development;

Press release is available here.