Raising Africa’s place in the global renewable energy development

BY STAFF REPORTER

Africa accounted for only two percent of global renewable energy deployment despite the abundance of renewable energy resources. This means that the Continent has not yet scratched the surface of the opportunities in this sector. To do this, barriers inhibiting progress in the sector including the policy, legal, finance, and technological barriers must get solved in order to realize universal energy access, in the African Continent stressed Dejene Taye (Ph.D) Project Manager at COOPI in his exclusive interview to The Ethiopian Herald.

The Project Manager, who is also an expert on the sector, said that the Foundation of RES4Africa is looking to put solutions to improve the renewable energy deployment for Africa.

Since 2000, many parts of Africa have been experiencing rapid economic growth and improving social conditions. The continent’s average real gross domestic product growth reached 3.6 percent in 2017 and is projected to rise to around 4 percent in 2018 and in 2019. Given the continent’s large and growing population, energy demand will rise quickly in the decades to come, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

IRENA, the principal platform for international co-operation, a center of excellence, and a repository of policy, technology, resource and financial knowledge on renewable energy has been promoting the widespread adoption and sustainable use of all forms of renewable energy, including bioenergy, geothermal, hydropower, ocean, solar and wind energy, in the pursuit of sustainable development, energy access, energy security and low-carbon economic growth and prosperity.

Endowed with substantial renewable energy resources, Africa can adopt innovative, sustainable technologies and play a leading role in global action to shape a sustainable energy future. Supply unreliability is a concern holding back economic development, with most countries facing frequent blackouts and often relying on expensive and polluting solutions. Clean, indigenous and affordable renewable energy solutions offer the continent the chance to achieve its economic, social, and environmental and climate objectives. Sustainable development and use of the continent’s massive biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar and wind power have the potential to rapidly change Africa’s current realities.

Africa can adopt innovative, sustainable technologies and play a leading role in global action to shape a sustainable energy future. The continent could meet nearly a quarter of its energy needs from indigenous and clean renewable energy sources by 2030 and increase the share of renewables in its total energy mix to as much as two-thirds by 2050.

It has pursued strategic, results-oriented partnerships with African organizations and development partners since its inception in 2011. In July 2011, IRENA convened a high-level consultative forum where Sub-Saharan African nations identified priority areas for joint action between intergovernmental agencies, governments and regional partners.

The resulting “Abu Dhabi Communiqué on Renewable Energy for Accelerating Africa’s Development” called for an assessment of existing conditions and needs, strengthening national, regional and continental policy frameworks to stimulate investment in renewables, and support for technological research and development through South-South co-operation.

Accordingly, IRENA has adopted a comprehensive, practical approach, providing technical support through regional, country-specific and thematic initiatives. These aim to develop knowledge, establish stronger policy and investment frameworks, and enhance institutional and human capacities to accelerate renewable energy deployment.

Africa’s economy is growing at unprecedented speed. One of the core challenges as African countries continue to grow and develop is energy: meeting rising demand for power, transport and other uses in a way that is economically sustainable and safeguards livelihoods. Economic growth, changing lifestyles and the need for reliable modern energy access is expected to require energy supply to be at least doubled by 2030. For electricity, it might even have to triple.

Africa is richly endowed with renewable energy sources, and the time is right for sound planning to ensure the right energy mix. Decisions made today will shape the continent’s energy use of decades to come. The world is increasingly embracing modern renewable energy technologies. For many years they have been supported because of environmental and energy security concerns but in a rising number of situations they are now seen as the most economic option.

The use of modern renewables is growing in Africa, and fostering this growth is imperative. African countries are in a unique position: they have the potential to leapfrog the traditional centralised-utility model for energy provision.

Africa 2030 is part of IRENA’s global REmap 2030 analysis, which outlines a roadmap to double the share of renewables in the world’s energy mix within the next 15 years. It is based on a country-by-country assessment of energy supply, demand, renewable-energy potential, and practical technology choices for households, industry, transport and the power sector. The results are shown for five African regions.

Four key modern renewable energy technologies with highest deployment potentials for Africa are modern biomass for cooking; hydropower; wind; and solar power. The power sector presents significant opportunity to be transformed through the increased deployment of renewable energy technologies. The share of renewables in the generation mix could grow to 50% by 2030 if the REmap Options in this report are implemented. Hydropower and wind capacity could reach 100 GW capacity each, followed by a solar capacity of over 90 GW. For the power sector, this would be an overall tenfold renewable energy capacity increase from 2013 levels. It would result in a reduction of 310 megatonnes of carbon dioxide (Mt CO2) in emissions by 2030 when compared to the baseline scenario. In all regions of Africa except the North, hydropower will continue to play an important role. North, Eastern and Southern Africa can all derive renewable power from other sources, such as wind energy, while concentrating solar power (CSP) will matter specifically in North Africa.

There is high need for stable and “bankable institutional and regulatory frameworks, perception of risks, more crucial than appropriate return on investments; requires the development (at least partial) of a risk mitigation facility in Africa. Noneconomic factors are perceived to be very relevant by many investors.

Develop a suitable market aggregation approach to attract industry, clear and simplified local permitting process, strength the support from supranational financial institutions, technology transfer and capacity building, are some of the solutions for African countries to transform their energy sector into renewable.

Southern and Eastern Countries are setting ambitious targets for the deployment of renewable energy generation in their territory to cover the internal demand and to exploit the enormous renewable.

Opportunities for productive energy transitions

Water, energy and food underpin economic and social development and are deeply interconnected. North Africa faces important climate change vulnerability and resource security issues in water-scarce, energy-intensive and agriculture-focused countries; The region’s high climate impact vulnerability impacts future energy infrastructure; mainstream integrated multi-sectoral approaches and climate resilience into future energy planning can improve resource efficiency, productivity and security; nexus and climate-resilient energy practices should be at the core of countries’ clean energy transitions pathways.

However, the region has shown important wins on renewables, with more progress needed on energy efficiency; and vast potential across the board; COVID-19 and countries’ energy, economic and climate goals places clean energy transitions firmly as a solution to transform how energy is supplied and consumed.

According to the continental energy organization, Africa Case shows that meeting economic objectives and SDG 7 is possible provided the right policy mix and investment financing; clean energy transitions are key for economic recovery, with renewables and energy efficiency as vectors of development.

The Ethiopian Herald March 31/2021

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