The current state of electricity in Senegal is significantly below the global average of 412 watts per person, with the total consumption reaching only about 40 watts per person. The bulk of this consumption comes from fossil fuels, accounting for roughly 30 watts per person, with more than a third derived from gas. Low-carbon energy accounts for less than a quarter of electricity consumption, with the majority coming from solar, followed by hydropower, wind, and biofuels. There's a minimal contribution from coal, constituting only a fraction of a watt per person. This low level of electricity generation could be a setback in terms of economic development and living standards, as it limits the availability of power for industries and households in the country. Furthermore, over 6% of the electricity consumed in Senegal is imported.
Examining the highest producing countries in terms of specific low-carbon electricity generation, it is clear that Senegal has potential areas for development. While nuclear may not be immediately feasible, given the resource constraints and expertise required, wind and solar could be more accessible alternatives. Countries like Denmark and Sweden have successfully harnessed wind energy, generating 369 and 363 watts per person respectively. Similarly, countries with similar climates to Senegal, like Australia, have tapped into solar energy for electricity production. The high levels of sunlight in Senegal present an opportunity for photovoltaic installations, which could follow the successful Australian example, who currently generates 147 watts per person from solar arrays.
The history of low-carbon electricity in Senegal has seen modest increases over the last two decades. Hydro has been the most established form of low-carbon energy in Senegal, starting to contribute to electricity generation in the early 2000s with an initial increase of 0.2 terawatt-hours (TWh) in 2002. However, there was limited growth in hydro capacity over the next years, even experiencing a slight decline in 2007. It wasn't until 2012 that another low-carbon source, biofuels, was introduced albeit fluctuating modestly between the years. There was a notable shift towards solar energy in 2017, starting off with a small increment of 0.1 TWh per year, eventually tripling by 2021. The most recent progression in Senegal's green energy scene was the introduction of wind energy in 2020, quickly becoming a significant contributor within a short timespan. Despite these advancements, the low-carbon sector still has a long way to go to displace fossil fuels as the primary source of electricity in Senegal.