Exploring and assessing high-impact carbon projects and bringing these to market is one of our key aims at Ecosphere+, allowing us not only to scale these crucial projects but help our clients meet important climate and sustainability targets.
We’re partnering with a leading set of project developers to deliver projects which focus on core benefits across climate, ecosystems, biodiversity and communities, and which address not only conservation, but restoration, reforestation and fuel-switch to name a few. With massive potential in Africa to deliver high-impact energy efficiency projects, solar energy is another important focus for Ecosphere+.
This work brings our team to many unique places, and in early 2022, this landed our Technical Manager, Daniel Fisher, in the heart of West Africa, in Dakar, to discover the dynamics of solar energy in Senegal. This trip would allow Ecosphere+ to better understand the context, and how and where high-quality solar projects could make a meaningful impact not only for local communities but for the energy transition in the region.
We thought we’d share with you what Daniel got up to, and why visiting projects to explore their potential is critical to our team.
After an overnight flight from London, Daniel landed in Dakar at about 8am. When you disembark the plane, the first thing you notice is the distinct feel of the warm African sun. After grabbing his backpack, Daniel jumped in the car and journeyed to a Senegalese solar energy farm, financed by the sale of carbon credits.
The growth of solar power in Senegal is critical as energy to the grid would otherwise be dominated by the operation of fossil fuel fired power plants. As an LDC, Senegal also has huge potential to be at the forefront of the global clean energy transition, and with the right flows of finance, could become an epicentre of innovation in energy. The Senegalese government also has impressive plans to electrify 100% of the country by 2025 and through its rural electrification scheme and by increasing grid extensions to more rural areas, is already delivering on this target.
Arriving at the farm, Daniel stepped out of the car and was immediately encircled by a large herd of goats – a definite juxtaposition to the swarms of red buses he left behind in London! In turns out however, these goats perform a vital function for the solar farm by maintaining the pathways that traverse the hundreds of panels, and most importantly, by keeping bushes and grass low to prevent fire hazards – a major threat to PV projects in semi-arid areas. After waters and introductions, Daniel spent the afternoon meeting with staff members, touring the site and performing key Environmental, Social and Governance due diligence assessments.
After a long day in the sun and sand, Daniel hopped back into the car and headed to a nearby fishing town. As the sun set over the water, the lights of the town began to flicker on and, amid intermittent power cuts, served as a reminder of the important local context and the potential for solar projects to have a real, tangible impact on communities here. Chatting to local fisherman along the banks of the water, this need became even more apparent – due to increased fish depletion and coastal erosion, sped up by climate change, their traditional way of life is under threat. Daniel finished his first day in Senegal with a few key notes: this project has successfully persevered during the COVID-19 pandemic, solar is generating critical livelihood opportunities for local Senegalese, and goats can be true agents of change!
Daniel headed back to the site the next morning for a full day of discussions and assessments. Today’s focus was on getting to know more about the construction, operation, and management of the solar farm. Exploring more of the site and conducting various interviews, the size and scope of the project became ever clearer. Conversations with staff uncovered the day-to-day impact of the project on the nearby communities, such as secure livelihoods and inclusivity opportunities with local and national government.
By late afternoon, it was back to a busy and bustling Dakar for Daniel, and a long and productive day concluded to the sounds of celebration in the streets as Senegal won the African Cup of Nations quarter final.
Daniel’s third and final day in Senegal ushered in important meetings with project developers to further understand local opportunities and needs. The commute, which involved travelling through the back streets and markets of Dakar while sipping a baobab juice, gave Daniel a true sense of life in this incredibly unique city and of the kind and entrepreneurial people who live here.
After a whirlwind few days in Senegal, a flight via Madrid landed Daniel back in London and back to brief the team. His trip to Senegal is just one example of the kind of assessments Ecosphere+ undertakes to ensure impact and quality across our supply. With the voluntary carbon market set to continue to grow in 2022 – from a market worth $1 billion in 2021 – mandating this level of due diligence is fundamental to scaling the market in a way that ensures a lasting contribution.
Contact us to find out more about how we are sourcing unique projects from across the world.