In a historic moment for East Africa, President Ismail Omar Guelleh inaugurated Djibouti’s maiden wind farm, the Red Sea Power (RSP) wind farm, near Lake Goubet. This project is a significant step towards the his vision of making Djibouti the first African nation to rely entirely on renewable energy sources for electricity by 2035.
The RSP wind farm will provide a substantial 60 megawatts of clean energy, effectively increasing the nation’s energy capacity by an impressive 50% and averting a staggering 252 500 tonnes of CO2 emissions annually.
This is equivalent to the pollution produced by over 55 000 buses.
With an investment of $122 million, the project marks the first substantial international investment in Djibouti’s energy sector and establishes the Independent Power Producer (IPP), setting a precedent for future private investments in the region.
A consortium of investors, including Africa Finance Corporation (AFC), FMO, Climate Fund Managers (CFM), and Great Horn Investment Holding (GHIH), plans to further expand renewable energy production in Djibouti by adding another 45MW of capacity.
Djibouti has historically depended on imported fossil fuels and hydrogen-generated power from Ethiopia for its energy needs. Less than half of its 123MW domestic installed capacity is operational due to outdated diesel plants.
The transition to clean energy is expected to ignite industrialization, foster job creation, and promote economic stability as Djibouti leverages its strategic position as a global transshipment hub.
The nation’s extensive coastline and strategically positioned ports along the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden give Djibouti a pivotal role in the global energy market. Djibouti possesses abundant wind, solar, and geothermal resources, with the potential to triple its existing capacity to at least 300MW. This energy transition also offers the opportunity for foreign military bases and other enterprises in the region to switch to clean energy, reducing their reliance on diesel-generated power.
The journey towards Djibouti’s first wind farm began in 2017 when the nation embarked on building an industrial zone. The consortium behind the RSP wind farm was formed in 2018 and provided the necessary all-equity construction bridge financing, propelling the project to achieve financial close in a record 22 months. Despite challenges posed by global supply disruptions due to Covid-era lockdowns, construction began in January 2020 and progressed rapidly.
Spanning 387 hectares, equivalent to over 700 football pitches, the wind farm boasts 17 Siemens turbines, each producing 3.4 MW. It is serviced by a robust 220 megavolt amperes (MVA) substation and connected via a 5km overhead transmission line to the local grid operator and warehousing.
Electricité de Djibouti (EDD), the national state-owned utility, will purchase the electricity generated under a long-term power purchase agreement. The government of Djibouti is already working on several other projects for additional geothermal and solar capacity, using the RSP wind farm as a model for future IPPs.
As Djibouti faces a projected demand of 3700 MW in the next decade, diversifying its energy infrastructure with renewables like solar, geothermal, wind, and tidal energy is essential. The RSP wind farm’s inauguration marks a significant stride towards achieving this goal, as the nation works towards becoming 100% reliant on green energy by 2035.
In addition to the wind farm, the Red Sea Power consortium has constructed a solar-powered desalination plant, inaugurated alongside the wind farm. This plant will provide clean drinking water to villages near the farm, addressing a major national water crisis affecting 20% of rural areas in Djibouti.