Study reveals bright future for renewable energy in Africa

By Wisdom Mumera

Research results have revealed that renewable energy possesses more potential for the continent as compared to fossil fuels and could outstrip the continent’s projected electricity demand by 2030.

A report from the World Bank Group and the International Energy Agency (IEA) has revealed that renewable energy provides the most beneficial alternative and choice for the continent going forward.

According to the analysis, the maximum potential for wind and solar power across all the assessed 21 nations surpasses the estimated electricity demand in 2030 by at least a factor of two.

The results indicate that Djibouti, Libya, Swaziland and Tanzania will be able to meet 30 per cent of their demand with accessible, low-impact, and cost-effective wind sites.

Similarly, Botswana, Ethiopia, Lesotho, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe could meet 30 per cent of their projected 2030 demand with domestically-produced solar photovoltaic (PV).

Zimbabwe has been struggling with making electricity available and has been helped only by the low consumption of electricity by an industry operating at 12% of its maximum capacity according to experts. This has allowed the provision of electricity for household use.

“Recent forecasts suggest that African countries must triple their current electricity generation by 2030.

“Our multicriteria assessment of wind and solar potential for large regions of Africa shows how economically competitive and low-environmental–impact renewable resources can significantly contribute to meeting this demand”, said the report.

At present, Africa has the lowest per capita electricity consumption in the world.

The report details that of the 1.06 billion people across the world who still lack access to electricity, 45 per cent are in rural Africa – with a further 10 per cent spread across African cities.

“According to the Sustainable Energy For All Forum, just 37 per cent of Africa’s population had access to electricity in 2014. Africa has huge untapped resources for renewable energy – namely wind and solar power”, it says citing this as the underlying reason for the need to diversify into renewable energy.

Concurring with these assertions, experts who gathered for the launch of the Energy Week at Hivos recently stated that a large part of Zimbabwe’s population is lacking access to electricity yet have access to renewable energy factors that only need to be tapped into.

The World Bank said well-chosen sites coupled with interconnectors that allow resources to be shared within and between countries could enable Africa’s rapidly growing electricity demand to be met with renewables at a similar cost to conventional fossil fuel generation, according to the authors of the paper.

The report further observed that, “the declining costs of wind and solar has already fuelled growth in renewable energy generation in a number of African countries. In Kenya and Ghana, the levelised cost of wind power is already roughly equal to hydropower.”

In a bid to expand the adoption of renewable energy throughout the continent, the paper’s authors developed a tool to map the best available new sites for solar and wind power in 21 different countries.

The countries are Angola, Botswana, Burundi, Djibouti, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Libya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe

Post Author: Nyasha Nyakunu

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