Unattainable proximity: solar power and peri-urbanity in central Burkina Faso

Cantoni, Roberto, Skræp Svenningsen, Lea and Sanfo, Safiétou (2021) Unattainable proximity: solar power and peri-urbanity in central Burkina Faso. Energy Policy, 150. a112127 112-127. ISSN 0301-4215

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Abstract

In the community of Zagtouli, close to Burkina Faso's capital, Ouagadougou, lies West Africa's largest solar power plant. This is a 33 MW, on-grid, photovoltaic plant. Operational from late 2017, it produces electricity for Burkina Faso's public energy company, SONABEL. The electric grid built between the plant and Ouagadougou crosses Zagtouli in its middle: however, electricity connections throughout the community are markedly non-homogeneous. In particular, most of the southern half of Zagtouli suffers from a condition known in the literature as ‘under-the-grid’: namely, close to the grid but unable to connect to it. The benefits stemming from the presence of the nearby plant, therefore, remain unattainable for a large share of the local community. Drawing on an ethnographic investigation of energy practices and uses conducted in Zagtouli, we employ the theoretical framework of energy justice to analyse the connection between local justice issues and national electrification strategies. We claim that the national preference for on-grid, centralised plants may not adequately respond to the need for a more just local energy distribution; and that for peri-urban areas that are not planned to be fully connected to the grid in the short term, smaller-scale, decentralised solutions may be more appropriate to achieve full electricity access.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Solar energy, Energy justice, Burkina Faso, Renewable energy policy, Under-the-grid communities
Schools and Departments: University of Sussex Business School > SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit
SWORD Depositor: Mx Elements Account
Depositing User: Mx Elements Account
Date Deposited: 13 Jan 2021 09:05
Last Modified: 12 Jan 2022 02:00
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/96461

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