Once the right economics and policies are put in place, the pace of advance made by the most successful renewable energy types, including wind power and solar photovoltaic (PV), can be exceptionally fast. Extrapolations of continent-wide trends by the new African Energy Live data (Live data) suggest that sustainable technologies can replace polluting (and, increasingly, often costlier) thermal solutions which include the diesel, heavy fuel oil and charcoal that hundreds of millions in sub-Saharan Africa have come to depend on. Across the continent, sun, wind, geothermal activity and other natural resources are being exploited as never before. In the continent’s renewable energy leaders, Morocco and South Africa, investment in concentrated solar power (CSP) has applied a technology that uses the sun to melt salt, providing a solution to the problem of storing energy.
There may be limits to this growth, but in 2016, a year when financiers and developers recorded only five independent power projects (IPPs) reaching financial close across Africa, it is notable that three of these investments were solar and wind, in Senegal and Uganda. US President Donald Trump apart, the global policy community is supporting green energy and climate change mitigation – which means there is a lot of money about that is available to be tapped, providing the business environment is sufficiently welcoming to absorb it.
Featuring around 3,900 power plants that are operational, planned, or under construction, African Energy Live data is the product of years of meticulous research by African Energy’s senior staff.
African Energy will be presenting new data and analysis from Live data at the fourth annual Africa Investment Exchange: Power and Renewables meeting, which will be held in London on 15-16 November.