Monthly Archives: December 2011

Africa as blank canvas for renewable energy

Africa currently offers an enormous potential for generating renewable energy by possessing untapped resources for wind, solar, wind, geothermal and hydropower, this is both an opportunity for the continent and the rest of the world.
According to Divid nickols, managing director of WSP Future Energy, Most African countries get their power from diesel generators due to the lack of comprehensive grid connections reaching prices of around $1 per kilowatt-hour, whereas solar photovoltaic power costs less than 20 cents per kwh.

“Because renewables [in Africa] are compared against decentralized diesel generators off-grid, the financials for renewables may well look attractive,” he also said

For the establishment of larger-scale projects novel cross-border collaboration will be necessary between the relevant African governments, multilateral institutions and industry, which will in fact create a model for other regions of the world.

“In terms of pure political and economic power, conditions still favor investment in fossil-fuel-based technologies and businesses,” says James Cameron, a founder and vice chairman of Climate Change Capital in London.

The Wall Street Journal Europe has identified five approaches to sustainable energy in Africa;

The harnessing of wind has the benefit of producing effective power as there is a plentiful supply of wind all over the African continent, where projects are already under development in areas such as Kenya, Cape Verde and Morocco, the continent known as leader in wind projects, a tender was acquired for renewable power projects and it included the installation of wind generation of up to 1.85 gigawatts that is to be delivered by 2030.

The African continent is renowned for its abundance of virtually continuous sunshine, which is a commodity that can be used to the worlds advantage and the future of solar energy. There are currently a number of projects that are based in the Sahara Desert, the largest project being the €400 billion ($550 billion) 12-member German-led Desertec Industrial Initiative consortium, they are also considering to fund a chain of different solar projects with the goal reachable which is to serve as much as 17% of Europe’s energy demand.  By concentrating energy from solar-thermal power plants in the Sahara Desert Desertec is then able to use heat storage tanks to transport the power on demand, this compensates for the various fluctuations of photovoltaic power and aids in the stabilisation of the grid.

With German Chancellor Angela Merkel leading the charge in the project, it has a solid backing from leaders across Europe, she also acclaims the cooperation that is taking place between Europe and North Africa, and presses that the diversification of energy transmission should move away from traditional sources.

Africa has vast river systems, which opens a world of opportunities for renewable energy through Hydropower.  According to London-based World Energy Council, the Grand Inga Dam project is expected produce around 39,00 megawatts of electricity, by planning to harness the immense potential of the Inga Falls on the Congo River, which is in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

According to United Nations Environment Program and the research conducted by the U.S. Geothermal Energy Association, geothermal power sources are extending across the Rift Valley from Ethiopia to Mozambique. There is thus the belief that these sources could  support the entire regions power demands and is estimated that there could be as much as 7 gigawatts of geothermal energy generated. The first geothermal project called Olkaria fields was established almost two decades ago in Kenya. According to UNEP, 40% of Kenya’s total power demand is expected to derive from geothermal energy.