The Sub-Saharan African Renewable Energy Industry Is Poised for Exponential Growth

The Sub-Saharan African renewable energy (RE) market is poised to experience exponential growth with governments in the region announcing new RE projects on a regular basis. The achievement of future projects will largely depend on the successful implementation of these early projects and feed-in tariffs for their effective roll out.

New analysis from Frost & Sullivan, Annual Renewable Energy Project Tracker, finds that several wind energy projects in North Africa that are currently in the development stage will be operational. This will significantly boost the installed wind power capacity in Africa. The off-grid solar power market in Sub-Saharan Africa is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of more than 10 per cent between 2009 and 2015.

"South Africa and Kenya, leaders in the RE industry, have announced feed-in tariffs for RE projects along with other regional governments that are currently investigating opportunities for RE projects," says Frost & Sullivan Energy and Power Systems Programme Manager Cornelis van der Waal. "Many developmental agencies consider small-scale RE projects as the most feasible solution for accelerated rural electrification and therefore are increasingly investing in medium-sized projects, especially wind and solar projects."

The Sub-Saharan African RE market is expected to triple in investment value between 2010 and 2015, driven by a significant need for energy diversification and energy security of supply. This is resulting in increased awareness of the important role RE projects have in energy security and rural electrification.

However, the slow pace of regulatory reform and the continued monopolies of state utilities form a challenge to large-scale RE projects. A revamp of the industry is needed to accelerate the pace of development and the private sector, in particular, should be given incentives to invest in such a sustainable sector.

"For example, in South Africa, there is huge investment planning towards the development of a large scale wind industry which is currently hampered by RE caps and time-consuming power purchase agreements (PPA) signings," explains Van der Waal.

South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria and Uganda are exploring the inclusion of grid-connected solar power into the national RE feed-in tariff (REFIT) policy. Companies with local manufacturing capacity will be the first choice to supply the solar photovoltaic technology.

"South Africa is expected to approve the renewable energy feed-in tariff for grid-connected solar power in 2010," concludes Van der Waal. "This will allow companies with local manufacturing capacity to capitalise on the feed-in tariff laws."

Annual Renewable Energy Project Tracker is part of the Energy & Power Growth Partnership Services programme, which also includes research in the following markets: Analysing Financiers Requirements for Investing into Sub-Saharan Africa’s IPP Market, Financing Clean Energy Projects in Sub-Saharan Africa, African CDM Market, and African Large-Scale Wind Turbine Market. All research services included in subscriptions provide detailed market opportunities and industry trends that have been evaluated following extensive interviews with market participants.