The current trend of consuming fossil fuels in the world causes these resources to deplete. Therefore, using fossil fuels has negative environmental consequences such as the greenhouse effect, the pollution of the atmosphere, and soil and water contamination. The most effective alternative for combating this case is to utilize renewable energy sources like wind. Wind energy, one of the foremost widespread renewable energy technologies in the world presents several advantages such as the ease to install wind turbines regarding space allocation and installation time (in comparison to hydro turbine technologies or marine technologies); the flexibility of locating wind farms; among others. Electricity generation using wind energy has been done by many countries for many years and this practice is popularized as time goes on. For this purpose, assessment of the wind energy potential for a given country or location is the first stage.
Cameroon has diversified geography, as a result, the country is confronted with several challenges in developing wind energy. Nonetheless, good winds are found in the Far North region, around the Logone & Chari division and Lake Chad and at the coastal areas (Douala, Kribi and Limbe) of the country. This high potential is additionally observed in highlands within the west region. Yet, the wind energy sector is not well known, and the country has no previous experience in wind generation. Despite the rising interest, alternative energy remains insignificant compared to hydropower, which currently generates a great percentage of the national electricity production.
However, the wind energy outlook is looking bright, because of the promotion of an investment-friendly strategy to draw interest in the Renewable Energy sector. Accordingly, a wind generation project in the hilly city of Bamboutos (West region) is in the pipeline with public-private partnerships, within the framework of the Cameroonian government’s investment programme. Once completed, the Bamboutos power station will be the country’s first commercial-scale public-private partnership wind project, with an installed capacity of 42 Megawatts that might be extended to 80 Megawatts. Once operational, the farm will produce a small percentage of the country’s electricity generation. As such, this will introduce wind energy contribution to the national energy consumption. Apart from the aforementioned project, the far north region of the country, which contains a high-quality potential for harnessing and installing Wind Energy Conversion Systems (WECS), is usually brought up because it represents the next target of the upcoming investment program planned by the government in the energy sector.
Again, wind resource has not been sufficiently investigated within the country because of the dearth of a reliable and easy wind atlas. In scientific literature, only a few studies are achieved to date, Tchinda et al (2000) hypothetically assessed wind energy potential in the far North region of Cameroon. Additionally, Tchinda and Kaptouom (2003) analysed wind speeds and energy distributions in the Adamaoua and North regions of Cameroon. Nfah and Ngundam (2012) identified stakeholders for sustainable growths of renewable energy in Cameroon. Abanda (2015) investigated the potentials and benefits, enabling environment of renewable energy sources in Cameroon. Kidmo et al. (2015) performed a statistical analysis of wind speed distribution supported six Weibull Methods to evaluate wind generation in the North region. Kidmo et al. assessed wind energy potential for small-scale water pumping and concluded that the potential in the North Region of Cameroon is not fitted for generating electricity. Based on published papers, most of these studies were meant to determine or assess wind energy potential, simulate WECS output, using various mathematical models but without any implementation study mentioned in WECS in the country.
Despite the wind energy potentials in Cameroon, there is still a noticeable lack of support by some agencies to implement several of the findings from the above studies. This can be because of the unclear policy on renewable energy that can stimulate local and international players to participate in the development of those regions. In 2016, there were already turbine installations in various hotels, in Bafou health clinic and M’mouck battery charging station. These prove the viability and operation of small-scale projects to support basic community needs. These is very good news because rural regions in Cameroon have very low access to hydropower generated electricity.
In Cameroon, there is heavy dependence on hydropower that is not readily available in all parts of the country, especially within the dry season. During this season, the wind has the potential to complement hydro in generating electricity because its potential is at the peak. Presently the governmental strategy concerning the renewable energy sector is not clear enough to accelerate the event of wind energy as another source of energy in the nation. Several organizations have attempted to install wind turbines in some parts of the country, but up to now, have produced no progress. The lack of commitment from the Cameroonian decision-makers and the poor maintenance of the existing equipment has hindered the process.
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Author : Yvan Ngassa