The Felou hydropower project is harnessing the natural power of the waterfalls on the Senegal river to produce low-cost, zero-emission hydroelectricity in an area suffering chronic electricity shortages.
Power generated by the Felou project will help meet growing demand. It will also provide an alternative to electricity produced by fossil-fuel-based thermal power stations, which is much more expensive, both in economic and environmental terms.
Mali, Mauritania and Senegal, known as the West African Power Pool (WAPP) “Zone B” countries, are set to benefit enormously from the Felou hydropower project. The national power utilities in these three countries, respectively EDM, SOMELEC and SENELEC, have had to resort to load shedding, or frequent intentional power cuts, to eke out the inadequate electricity supply.
At present, electricity generated in Mali, Mauritania and Senegal is relatively carbon intensive. By contrast, the Felou project is expected to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases by an estimated 160,908 t CO2e (tonnes equivalent carbon dioxide) per year.
Investing for clean energy
The run-of-river project, located about 15km upstream of the town of Kayes in Mali, will make use of the strong, year-round flow of the river, which is partially maintained by the Manantali reservoir 200km downstream, and the height and power of the natural waterfalls. The project will involve renovating an existing weir, installing a powerhouse with three turbine/generator units with a capacity of 21 MWe each, together with a water intake structure, a substation and an overhead transmission line. The predicted gross power generation will be 325 GWh per annum.
Access roads, the existing dispatch centre at Manantali and the telecommunication systems operated by the national utilities involved will all be upgraded as a result of the project.
The total cost of the scheme is around €211.5 million. It will be co-financed by the World Bank, the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the Société de Gestion du Barrage de Manantali (SOGEM).