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Renewable energies in Africa

21 August 2012, AfriCAN Climate
URL: http://www.africanclimate.net/en/publications/renewable-energies-africa


This report summarizes current knowledge at the Joint Research Centre regarding Renewable Energy in Africa. It assesses current energy consumption and the share of renewables in African states, and attempts to estimate the technical potential of available resources of solar, wind, biomass and hydropower which could be economically used to provide energy for the increasing population.

Existing Statistical data on energy supply and demand have a large uncertainty, both in terms of quantity and costs or price. The available data which were used for this report indicate a wide range both of per capita energy consumption (100 to 2000 kgoe/cap/y) and per capita electricity consumption (50 to 4000 kWh/cap/y). Relative to the average of the European Union, this corresponds to up to 35 times less regarding all energy, and up to 100 times less regarding electricity. Even though electrification made considerable progress in the past 10 years, 600 Mio of rural population has no access to electricity at all.

This report assesses in detail the renewable energy options for electricity production in rural areas, where the de-centralised feature of these technologies allow an economically viable competition with conventional grid extension. It is particularly true in remote areas where the nearest grid infrastructure is already unreliable and overloaded. In areas where household density is low (<50 cap/km2), any investment in larger grid infrastructure would never be cost competitive. This report enhances also insight in the transport costs of conventional fuel, taking a population density to be served and transport infrastructure into account.

Regarding renewable resources, geographical data on solar radiation, wind weather patterns, biomass resources of forests, agriculture and residues as well as water resource data have been assembled. Such an approach allows for each region of Africa to estimate the best choice or mix of renewable resources, taking fully into account sustainability and environmental criteria. It is hoped that these data can be referenced by African states involving in setting up a national renewable energy action plan.

A detailed analysis is given regarding one of the currently major energy vectors, biomass combustion and charcoal, as it is not only supplying almost 60% of current energy needs, but a major target to improve efficiency by modern technologies. Such improvement is of key importance, as it would avoid the negative health effects, reduce specific greenhouse gas emissions and contribute to sustainable forest management.

A detailed analysis is given regarding one of the currently major energy vectors, biomass combustion and charcoal, as it is not only supplying almost 60% of current energy needs, but a major target to improve efficiency by modern technologies. Such improvement is of key importance, as it would avoid the negative health effects, reduce specific greenhouse gas emissions and contribute to sustainable forest management.

Finally, current costs of technology are compared to existing energy costs, assuming also "willingness-to-pay" estimates. This comparison also reveals the influence of existing energy subsidies in the slow deployment of renewable resources.

 
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