Renewable Energy Growth in Africa

    Green-driven growth is still an underdeveloped aspect of Africa’s economy and African leaders generally have limited incentives to make green energy supply a strategic priority. However, with the anticipated growth of urban centres across the continent, there are examples of where renewable energy is being promoted and projects being developed in various African countries and regions.

    When you think of Africa, you immediately think of long, hot sunny days so where better than to invest in solar panels in the African continent? China obviously believes so and is currently planning solar power projects in forty African countries. In June 2011 a feasibility study was underway to consider installing solar panels on the roofs of hospitals, schools and other structures. According to Sun Guangbin, Secretary General of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce for Import and Export of Machinery & Electronic Products, the Chamber has been given permission to outlay between 10 and 20 million Yuan for the installation of solar panels in Africa.

    South Africa is leading the way in renewable energy and several businesses have formed the National Energy Association and the Alternate Energy Association. They have held workshops and worked with the Government and stakeholders regarding the design and development of renewable energy. Cape Town, in particular, has put itself on the right path. In 2004 the city authorities committed to the introduction of solar water heaters across the municipality and in 2005 established a dedicated office for renewable energy finance and subsidy. In South Africa there is huge investment in planning towards the development of a large scale wind industry but this is currently slowed down by established power purchase agreements.

    In North Africa there are currently several wind projects in the developmental stage that will be operational this year and will greatly enhance the installed wind power capacity in Africa. South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria and Uganda are all exploring the inclusion of grid-connected solar power into the national renewable energy feed-in tariff policy. Companies with local manufacturing capacity will be the first to supply the solar photovoltaic technology.

    The Sub-Saharan renewable energy market is on track to experience rapid growth with governments in the region announcing new projects on a regular basis. Their off-grid solar power market is expected to grow by 10% each year for the next four years. Growth is definitely there but it is slow, whether Africa will reach the 2050 climate change targets is another matter.

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