This study seeks to map areas in Burkina Faso that are suitable for deploying utilityscale solar photovoltaic (PV) and wind power projects. It aims to i) provide insights into the country’s potential to adopt solar PV and wind power; ii) inform national infrastructure planning across the electricity supply value chain, spanning generation, transmission and distribution; and iii) provide critical input for high-level policy models that aim to ensure universal electricity supply and support the long-term abatement of climate change. The study combines high-quality resource data with ancillary factors, such as local
population density, protected areas, topography, land use, electrical transmission lines and road network proximity, using a suitability assessment approach. This approach – developed by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) in 2013 and now updated based on accumulated global experience and heightened data collection capacity – has enabled the identification of areas in the country worthy
of further investigation in the context of intensified renewable energy development.
This suitability assessment was carried out at the request of the Government of Burkina Faso to map
potential areas for utility-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) and wind projects. Currently, less than 25% of the population has access to electricity and the majority of those with access live in urban areas. In cities, the electricity access rate averages 65%, dropping to 3% in rural areas. The country aims to reach 95% electricity access, with 50% in rural areas and universal access to clean cooking solutions in urban areas, with 65% in rural areas by 2030, up from 9% in 2020. The utilisation of Burkina Faso’s renewable resource potential would enable the country to reduce its heavy reliance on thermal generation and energy imports. The country could also move to attain the 50% renewable energy generation targets stipulated in the 2014 Energy Sector Policy and the 2017 law on the regulation of the energy sector.
THE SUITABILITY ASSESSMENT
The suitability assessment is predominantly a GISbased multi criteria decision making analysis that
enables the objective mapping of the renewable energy potential in a country or a region. The resource data – such as solar irradiance or wind speed at a specific height – is the most important criterion in evaluating the potential of an area for solar and wind energy project development. Such evaluation requires a representative mapping of the renewable resources. The solar irradiance component affecting photovoltaic (PV) output is global horizontal irradiance (GHI). This component is commonly calculated
using either physical-based or statistical-based approaches that also require satellite or ground measurements. Datasets, such as the World Bank’s Global Solar Atlas and Transvalor’s SODA solar maps, cover more than 20 years of hourly historical data at 1 km grid cell resolution; they allow the calculation of a representative long-term average annual global horizontal irradiation.
DATA SCOPE AND QUALITY
The data considered to perform the suitability assessment for solar PV and wind projects were
sourced for the defined criteria. These criteria include solar and wind resource maps, topography features (elevation and slope), proximity to transmission line and road networks, and proximity to population centres and environmentally sensitive areas.
Solar resource data
The average annual global horizontal irradiation (GHI) data employed in this study were sourced
from the World Bank’s Global Solar Atlas, developed by Solargis (ESMAP, 2019b), (Figure 2).
The data are calculated at a grid cell resolution of 1 km using long-term satellite-based solar irradiance covering a time period from 1994 to 2015.
Transmission line network
The transmission line network used in this analysis was provided by the National Observatory of
Territorial Economy office in Burkina Faso as shown in Figure 5.
Figures 9 and 10 display the land suitability map for solar PV and wind project development in Burkina
Faso generated using the suitability assessment approach discussed The results obtained indicate that 27.4% and 0.5% of the total country land area is suitable for solar PV and wind project development, respectively (i.e. suitability index exceeding 60%). These areas are largely located along the transmission network.
The findings of this study indicate that there is significant potential for utility-scale solar PV and
wind power development in Burkina Faso. The maximum development potential across the country
is estimated at approximately 95.9 GW and 1.96 GW for solar PV and wind projects, respectively, considering land-use footprints of 50 MW/km2 for solar PV and 5 MW/km2 for wind, with a land utilisation factor of 1%. These findings are intended to prompt more indepth investigation to establish specific sites for detailed evaluation using high temporal and spatial resolution resource data. Yet the limitations of this study must be noted – including the sensitivity of the land suitability maps to the assumption made to set the thresholds and the underlying quality of criteria datasets. Notably, non-technical issues, such as land ownership, can also influence the selection of land for further prospecting.