Essakane Solar SAS
Essakane & Wärtsilä

Reference case

Africa’s largest engine-solar PV hybrid power plant

15MWp or 12MWac solar PV

The Essakane gold mine in Burkina Faso receives its needed power from Africa’s largest engine-solar PV hybrid power plant delivered by Wärtsilä. Benefits for the mine include reduced fuel costs and a smaller carbon footprint. The capability to control and optimise the usage of the solar PV power and engines enables the gold mine to reduce its fuel consumption by an estimated 6 million litres per year and its annual CO2 emissions by 18,500 tons.

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Wärtsilä has delivered a 15 MWp solar photovoltaic (PV) power plant to the independent power producer (IPP) Essakane Solar SAS in Burkina Faso. The solar PV plant was constructed next to a 55 MW Wärtsilä power plant running on heavy fuel oil. The engine power plant provides backup, while the solar farm produces energy during the day. The solar PV plant and the engine power plant are controlled and operated in synchronisation, making it the largest engine-solar PV hybrid power plant in Africa.

IAMGOLD Essakane SA is the largest privately held business in Burkina Faso. The off-grid gold mine is located 330 kilometres northeast of the capital city, Ouagadougou, and 42 kilometres east of the nearest large town. In 2015, the annual gold production was 400,000 ounces (approximately 12,000 kg). Because of the isolated location of the gold mine, reliable and sustainable around-theclock energy is vital.

EREN Renewable Energy (EREN) and its partner African Energy Management Platform (AEMP) signed a 15-year power purchase agreement (PPA) with IAMGOLD Essakane SA. The PPA is is jointly owned with (90%/10%) Essakane Solar SAS, who operates the solar PV plant and sells the energy to IAMGOLD’s Essakane Mine.

Wärtsilä’s engine-solar hybrids save fuel, which results in cost savings and environmental benefits. The entire scope delivered covers the full engineering, procurement & construction (EPC) of the solar PV power plant, including inverters and switchgear, in addition to almost 130,000 photovoltaic panels. Last but not least, there is the control system - a crucial component of the hybrid plant - which is also included.

Essakane Solar’s engine-solar PV hybrid power plant, supplied by Wärtsilä, is one of the largest of its kind in the world. The plant is a breakthrough for industries relying on expensive carbon-intensive diesel power, which until now has been their only reliable energy source.

For large isolated industries such as mining companies, which operate around the clock, hybridisation can be the answer, especially as the energy costs typically represent up to 30% of the operating expenses. Connecting a renewable energy source such as solar power to a Smart Power Generation plant reduces energy costs, improves the carbon as well as the social footprint, and hedges against oil price unpredictability.

WhoEssakane Solar SAS
WhatEngine/Solar PV Hybrid plant
WhereBurkina Faso
HowFull EPC

This is what we achieved

6 Million

litres of fuel saved

18500 Tons

Reduction of Annual Carbon footprint

This project represents a major breakthrough in the industry. EREN chose Wärtsilä for its outstanding track record in EPC projects in Africa and the company’s commitment to design, deliver and support a reliable hybrid solution like this.

Christophe Fleurence, Vice President, Business Development for Africa, EREN Renewable Energy

How we did it

Challenge icon


  • Providing a solution that reduces fuel costs significantly
  • Ensuring a sustainable energy production for an off-grid gold mine
Solution icon


  • Delivery of a 15 MWp solar photovoltaic (PV) power plant in hybrid operation with an existing thermal plant
  • Full EPC solar plant delivery including inverters, switchgear and control system
Benefit icon


  • Reduced fuel consumption by approximately 6 million litres per year resulting in substantial savings
  • Environmental benefit through a reduced annual carbon footprint of 18,500 tons (CO2)

The main details

   Customer  Essakane Solar SAS
   Type  Wärtsilä engine-solar PV hybrid power plant
   Operating mode  Solar power, with engines for backup run in island mode for gold mine
   PV-Panels  Approximately 130,000 photovoltaic panels
   Total output  15MWp or 12MWac solar PV
   Fuel  Solar PV power 
   Scope  Full EPC for the solar PV power plant
   Delivered  Operational March 2018
Burkino Faso Map

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