Africa’s huge latent for renewable energy could surpass the continent’s estimated electricity demand in 2030, according to new research.
The paper, “Strategic siting and regional grid interconnections key to low-carbon futures in African nations” draws the potential for new wind and solar farms in 21 African nations.
At present-day, Africa has the least per capita electricity consumption in the world.
The report states that of the 1.06 billion people across the globe who still have no access to electricity, 45 per cent live in Rural Africa – with an extra 10 per cent spread across African municipalities.
According to the Sustainable Energy For All Forum, only 37 per cent of Africa’s populace had access to electricity in 2014.
Africa has vast unexploited resources for renewable energy – specifically wind and solar power.
Carefully selected locations coupled with interconnectors that enable resources to be shared within and between nations could allow Africa’s quickly mounting electricity demand to be met with renewables at alike cost to conventional fossil fuel generation, according to the authors of the paper.
Energy demand in Africa is expected to grow exponentially; the study forecasts that for an area encompassing 50 per cent of Africa’s population, the collective demand will exceed 1,000 terawatt-hours (TWh) by 2030 – almost triple the figure for 2010.
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 unevenly equivalent to hydropower.
To enlarge the adoption of renewable energy all over the continent, the paper’s authors developed a tool to map the best available new locations for solar and wind power in 21 different nations.
According to the exploration, the full potential for wind and solar power across all 21 nations exceeds the expected electricity demand in 2030 by at slightest a factor of two.
The outcomes show that Djibouti, Libya, Swaziland and Tanzania will be able to meet 30 per cent of their demand with available, low-impact, and economical wind spots.
Likewise, Botswana, Ethiopia, Lesotho, Tanzania, Uganda, Sudan and Zimbabwe could see 30 per cent of their estimated 2030 demand with locally-produced solar photovoltaic (PV).
However, for Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Kenya, Libya, South Africa and Zambia meeting 2030 targets will “require investing in transmission extensions to access lower-cost PV resources or importing from neighbors”.