Home to 12 major rivers and the sources of the rivers Niger, Gambia and Senegal, Guinea has some of the highest potential for hydropower in West Africa, with a gross theoretical hydropower potential of at least 31,444 GWh/year.
The technically feasible potential is around 25,155 GWh/year, and the economically feasible potential is estimated to be 20,124 GWh/year. More than 7180 MW of capacity could be developed, which would provide for the production of 20,000 GWh/year (see H&D World Atlas, 2017).
The further development of Guinea’s significant hydropower resources is expected to play a major role in meeting growing electricity demand in the country, amid forecasts of substantial economic and population growth. The IMF forecasts a 5.8 per cent rise in GDP in 2018 and 5.9 per cent in 2019, while the population is anticipated to increase to an estimated 14.7 million in 2022, from 13.2 million in 2018. Hydro development will also help meet the Government’s commitments to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by increasing the share of renewable energy in the generation mix and supporting long-standing plans for a regional grid and increased power trading in West Africa.
One of the key projects is the 450 MW Souapiti storage plant on the river Konkouré, for which the China EximBank has just approved US$ 1.3 billion in financing.
The signing of the loan agreement will take place very soon, which will allow the already advanced construction work to accelerate.
The state-owned policy bank, which supports China’s foreign trade and investment and international economic cooperation, first agreed to fund construction of the Souapiti hydropower and dam scheme, located about 50 km from the capital Conakry, in 2007, but its development has been delayed by a combination of political instability and the 2013 Ebola crisis. Initial construction work by China International Water & Electric (CWE) only began in 2016 following the signing of a US$ 1.38 billion EPC contract in January 2016 with the Ministry of Energy and Water Resources and Ministry of Finance. The project, which is being developed on a public-private partnership basis between CWE and the Government, will involve the construction of an RCC dam with a maximum height of 116.5 m, and a length of 1148 m, as well as a plant with a design capacity of 450 MW and average annual output of 1.9 TWh. Completion is expected between 2019 and 2021.
The Souapiti project will also help regulate the flow of the Konkouré, allowing the downstream 240 MW Kaléta storage scheme to operate at full capacity. Designed to operate with Souapiti, Kaléta was commissioned in 2015 and has only a small reservoir of its own, thus limiting capacity to around 40 MW of a total 240 MW during the dry season. Increased production from Souapiti and Kaléta will play a significant role in providing reliable power for Conakry’s 1.7 million residents, as well as Guinea’s bauxite mines, which account for 31 per cent of power consumption in the country.
Providing greater power for the domestic market is crucial to the country’s economic growth and political stability, given frequent protests over power shortages. Access to electricity in the country is very low: around 25 per cent in urban areas, and only 4 per cent in rural areas (H&D World Atlas, 2017).
Guinea expects to sell surplus power from the two projects on the Konkouré to neighbouring countries including Gambia, Senegal, Guinea-Bissau, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Mali.
Several planned interconnection projects, which are intended to establish reliable interstate power grids and improve regional electricity trade as well as domestic electrification, are critical to this, including most notably the Gambia River Basin Development Authority or Organisation de pour la Mise en Valeur du Fleuve Gambie (OMVG) interconnection, which is part-financed by the World Bank Group. Transmission links will connect Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau and Senegal, with interconnection expected to be completed in 2022. In addition, the Côte d’Ivoire-Liberia-Sierra Leone-Guinea interconnection, identified as a ‘top-five-priority’ project for the West African Power Pool’s development, is expected to become operational in 2020.
As stated in the country’s intended national determined contribution to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, Guinea plans to commission a further 1410 MW of hydropower capacity by 2030. According to African Energy Live Data’s project pipeline for 2018-22, total national installed on-grid capacity is expected to nearly double to 1221 MW by 2022. The country currently has a total installed capacity of 750 MW: 458.35 MW is at plants owned by the public power company Electricité de Guinée, and 291.65 MW is owned by organizations in the private sector (mining companies, service companies and other industries).
In addition to the 450 MW Souapiti plant, three other hydropower projects could be commissioned over this period. The 93 MW Digan and 90 MW Fomi projects are scheduled to be commissioned by 2021 while the Nzébéla project, with a design capacity of between 16 and 48 MW could begin into commercial service by 2020. Should the Live Data pipeline projection be realized, Guinea’s energy mix by 2022 will be dominated by hydropower, which would account for 73 per cent of the total installed capacity.
One of the most interesting projects from a national and regional perspective is the Fomi dam and hydropower project on the upper Niger. This transboundary scheme, between Mali and Guinea, is designed for irrigation and to maintain dry-season flows, in addition to power generation. In June 2017, China’s Yellow River Engineering Consulting Company submitted updated feasibility studies for Fomi, which most notably propose moving the dam to a new site 28 km away from the originally proposed location. This should reduce the numbers of resettled persons and the social impact of the project.
Other identified projects for future development include: Amaria (285 MW); Morisanako (100 MW); Tiopo (90 MW); Grand Kinkon (280 MW); Digan (128 MW); Kassa B (118 MW); Kora Findi (100 MW); Djolol Yillabhé (72 MW); Diaréguéla (72 MW); Féllo Soungan (53 MW); Gozoguézia (48 MW); and, N’Zébéla (20 MW).