Renewable energy charges ahead in Africa

The amount of money being deposited into African projects, particularly in energy and power distribution, increased by nearly 50% in 2014, according to a study by Deloitte. One of the most exciting projects was the Grand Inga Hydro Power Project, seen as a potential continental game changer. Initial estimates are that the massive project could help save US$32 billion in capital spending and 65 megatons in carbon emissions.

With a drop in renewable technology prices, many project planners are increasingly seeing the potential in renewable sources. Projects are dotted throughout Africa, from one of Africa’s largest wind farms in Ethiopia to a massive boost in hydro power in Angola.

Eight leading renewable energy projects in Africa

  • Kenya – Kenya is now the world’s ninth largest producer of geothermal energy. Plans envisage the doubling of capacity by the end of 2016 by expanding the Olkaria plant. Kenya is also moving ahead in developing its wind power resources.
  • Ethiopia – Ethiopia has tackled the impact of falling water levels in the dry season by moving into wind power. It now boasts one of Africa’s largest wind farms. The 120 MW, 84-turbine farm is 780 kilometres north of the capital of Addis Ababa.
  • Nigeria – Oil-rich Nigeria is scaling up its solar capacity. Agreements signed in 2014 and 2015 will take the country across the 5GW threshold. Nigeria is also in negotiations with a South Korea company, HQMC, about building another 10GW in capacity and establishing Africa’s first large-scale solar- panel manufacturing facility.
  • South Africa – South Africa has been recognised for one of the fastest rates of growth in the world for renewable energy investment through its Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement (REIPP) programme, with projects ranging from wind and solar PV to biogas.
  • Mauritania – Solar energy now powers a third of energy use in Nouakchott, the capital city of this West African country, and makes up 10% of the national grid. Plans are also underway to commission a 30MW wind farm, boosting the share of renewable energy in the national energy mix to 45%.
  • Democratic Republic of Congo – The Grand Inga hydro power project is forecast to double Africa’s electricity production capacity, making it the world’s largest infrastructure project.
  • Rwanda – Ignite Power is the first part of an ambitious plan aimed at achieving universal access to clean energy coverage in Rwanda. It brings together local and international organisations and has developed a template for connecting all households on and beyond the grid.
  • Ghana – The world’s fourth largest solar facility is under construction in western Ghana. The US$400 million Nzema solar project will include 630 000 solar modules generating 155MW of power. It will add 6% to Ghana’s overall power generation.