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Ivory Coast starts construction on first biomass power plant

By Loucoumane Coulibaly

AYEBO, Ivory Coast, Oct 25 (Reuters) - Ivory Coast has started construction on its first biomass-fired power generation plant, a 46 megawatt (MW) project backed by France's EDF , the company building it said on Monday.

The plant will cost over 200 million euros ($199 million) and is expected to be operational in three years, Raphael Ruat, managing director of BIOVEA Energie, told Reuters.

BIOVEA is owned by EDF, Ivory Coast's agro-industrial group SIFCA and French firm Meridiam. The project is being financed by Proparco and the Emerging Africa Infrastructure Fund.

The plant includes two 23 MW turbines that will run on around 520,000 tonnes of palm oil waste bought from farmers in Ayebo, about 100 kilometres (62 miles) east of Abidjan.

The partners have said that the project could boost revenues of nearly 12,000 farmers by around 20% annually.

"It's a project that responds to the needs of Ivory Coast, which is facing a growing demand in terms of energy," said Ruat.

Ivory Coast's power capacity is about 2,369 MW, mainly from oil and gas, and the country hopes to increase that to 4,000 MW by 2025.

Ivory Coast also exports power to several of its West African neighbours.($1 = 1.0044 euros) (Reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly; Editing by Nellie Peyton and Sandra Maler)

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