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Africa should ‘leapfrog’ the rest of the world when it comes to renewable energy

The good thing is that we are blessed with abundant renewable energy resources—both wind and sun.
Image: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg

As told to Laura Millan Lombraña

“Africa’s biggest challenge, both on climate and the virus, is its infrastructure deficit. There’s a lack of access to water, sanitation; [there’s] overcrowding of spaces. This is where the virus starts to connect with the climate: In informal urban settlements, the disease can spread fast because of overcrowding and lack of access to water—and when you have lots of people in a very small place, lacking public services and welfare systems, it’s only going to make them more vulnerable to climate events like heat, floods, or storms. We need to build better housing with access to water and sanitation that reduces overcrowding, but also houses that are ­energy-efficient and that increase our resilience to shocks.

“So far we are following the development path of the industrialised world. But what you want is something like we did with phones, where we leapfrogged the fixed lines and went straight into mobile. Countries such as South Africa, Nigeria, Angola, and some nations in the Maghreb have economies that are largely dependent on fossil fuels and have very few plans to replace that dependency. This is an opportunity for them to start diversifying. The good thing is that we are blessed with abundant renewable energy resources—both wind and sun.

“For the rest of sub-Saharan Africa, this is an opportunity to electrify the continent, if we can unlock the investment needed. Large swaths of the population live in rural areas, so the conventional approach that favors a grid with a centralised control won’t work. The way to deliver power is through a smart, flexible, diverse, and democratised energy system that also ensures involvement by local communities.”

Mohamed Adow, founding director, Power Shift Africa

© 2020 Bloomberg

COMMENTS   12

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Renewable energy is a myth.

Explain

Watch ‘Planet of the Humans’ on you tube.

I beg to differ. Renewable energy is on the up and up worldwide. Its cost per kW/h is now lower than coal. South Africa has 2500 hours of sunshine a year as compared with 1000 hours in Europe, yet Europe is strongly pushing PV power. We have 3000 kms of coastline where the wind always blows. Australia is fast heading towards renewables. And while I am in no way connected with any renewable companies, I have had PV panels on my roof since February 2016. My previous electricity bill was as high as 1500 kW/h a month, and averaged over 800 kW/h. It now averages less than 150 kWh/month. The installation has already paid for itself. The panels last at least 25 years and then still deliver about 80% energy. Proof of the pudding etc. I can only think that those who oppose PV power either have vested interests or simply don’t understand facts.

@ Chris, you woke up late today, mostly you comment at 1 AM.

But in reality you have not woken up at all, and once more show a complete ignorance about present prices and developments for different kinds of electricity production.
And you receive 160 upvotes, the readership and commentariat on this forum of Ryk and Larry are truly archaically behind.
I have presented you already many times with the facts and prices on renewable energy, but you simply and stubbornly ignore the facts.
Sorry, No time today to elaborate, maybe will try another time.

Should, but will it. The large scale projects require sovereign bankability, which is not there in most African nations.

Solar PV can be installed at much lower cost in Africa than PV elsewhere.

IRENA was commenting about dropping below $1/watt installed. We are at $0.5 and below in RSA.

So yes 100% we need to leapfrog

Myth? I guess this may be true for countless people living in Africa due to the cost – but it does work! Governments could help subsidise PV panels and systems if they so chose. I have Solar at my home and on the roof of my Caravan. Fact: It works. Perhaps this would reduce the theft of Cell Tower batteries?

I also think that Electric Vehicles should be import duty and Tax free – to encourage the purchasing of vehicles that don’t burn fossil fuel. Yes, initially only the middle and upper income citizens could buy them initially – but pricing will reduce eventually. Just imagine Taxi’s being electric, with Tesla technology that forces Taxi drivers to behave on the road! Pipe dream – but it has to start somewhere.
Maybe Elon Musk would then consider building a Mega/Tera Factory in Africa then as well.

Many projects are being developed across most of Africa with some countries welcoming the cheaper power and some preventing projects from being built as a result of entrenched corruption. The resource is there (wind, solar, hydro) in most counties and governments support in the form of regulations, etc is needed.

Kenya is a case in point; many global players have invested hundreds of million of USD in that country in RE projects.

What will really move the market is battery storage. This is a globally developing story and requires more complex energy trading markets and platforms than exist in most African countries.

At the commercial level, many MNC’s are going renewable behind the meter which is an unstoppable force as the energy is mostly much cheaper than the grid (10-40% cheaper) and their global GHG reduction commitments are strong as shareholders are now driving this.

The capital available is many times bigger than the bankable projects.

Its such an obvious solution for our neck of the woods but as always government has sabotaged efforts to supply electricity that doesn’t rely on their monopoly. We could have avoided the most recent bouts of load-shedding entirely if the IPPP had not been mothballed under Zuma.

Instead he got into bed with the Russians and did everything he could to push nuclear instead. Which remains THE most expensive form of energy after coal. And for those halfwits who insist its still more expensive than fossil fuels, consider the cost of the Medupi and Kusile power stations ALONE: R450 billion! Not to mention they don’t even function at full capacity.

https://www.news24.com/fin24/Budget/how-medupi-and-kusile-are-sinking-south-africa-20191009

End of comments.

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