Solar Poised to Boom in Africa Says Report

IRENA estimates that with the right enabling policies, Africa could be home to more than 70 gigawatts of solar PV capacity by 2030. The report discusses challenges in policy making and proposes a co-ordinated effort to collect data on the installed costs of solar PV in Africa, across all market segments. Such information will improve the efficiency of policy support and accelerate deployment.
23 Sep 2016 18:50
IRENA Director General , Adnan Amin(R) chats with Kenyan Energy Minister , Chichir.
Falling technology costs make solar PV one of the cheapest ways to meet power needs and increase energy access on the continent.

The business case for solar photovoltaic (PV) in Africa is stronger than ever thanks to rapidly declining technology costs.

International Renewable Energy Agency  (IRENA) Director General, Adnan Z. Amin said the cost reductions, coupled with vast solar potential on the continent, present a huge opportunity for Africa.

He says both grid-connected and off-grid solar photovoltaic now offer a cost-competitive means to meet rising energy needs and bring electricity to the 600 million Africans who currently lack access.

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) in a report released on Thursday said costs and markets,estimates that installed costs for power generated by utility-scale solar photovoltaic projects in Africa have decreased as much as 61 per cent since 2012.

The installed costs for these projects according to the report are as low as USD 1.30 per watt in Africa, compared to the global average of USD 1.80 per watt.

Solar home systems have according to the report tripled in Africa between 2010 and 2014 – providing the annual electricity needs of off-grid households for as little as USD 56 per year, less than what they currently pay for poor quality energy services.

The latest findings on Africa comes as the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA)  plans to hold the 3rd edition of the International Off-Grid Renewable Energy Conference and Exhibition (IOREC), taking place in Nairobi, Kenya on 30 September and 1 October 2016.

International Off-Grid Renewable Energy Conference and Exhibition (IOREC) is the premier global platform for sharing experience and best practices for stand-alone and mini-grid renewable energy systems.

Global capacity additions for solar PV have increased six-fold since 2009, a trend that is now beginning to materialise in Africa.

More than 800 new megawatts (MW) of solar PV capacity was added in Africa in 2014 – doubling the continents cumulative capacity – and another 750 MW was added in 2015.

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) estimates that with the right enabling policies, Africa could be home to more than 70 gigawatts of solar PV capacity by 2030.

“Africa's solar potential is enormous, with solar irradiation levels up to 117 per cent higher than in Germany – the country with the highest installed solar power capacity,” said Mr. Amin. “It has never been more possible, and less expensive for Africa to realise this potential.”

Africa has abundant renewable energy resources. Traditionally reliant on hydro power, the continent is turning to solar photovoltaics (PV) to bolster energy security and support rapid economic growth in a sustainable manner.

With recent substantial cost reductions, solar PV offers a rapid, cost-effective way to provide utility-scale electricity for the grid and modern energy services to the approximately 600 million Africans who lack electricity access.

The electrification rate (the percentage of the population with access to electricity) in sub-Saharan Africa is the lowest of any developing region.  Electrification rates in sub-Saharan Africa rose from 22.7% in 1990 to 26.1% in 2000, and reached 35% in 2012.

Every country in sub-Saharan Africa has seen electrification rates rise between 2000 and 2012, except The Gambia, where the percentage rate was roughly constant.

With population growth between 2000 and 2012, this has resulted in 150 million sub-Saharan Africans gaining access to electricity since the year 2000.

Total installed solar PV capacity therefore more than quadrupled in two years. Total installed solar PV in Africa is dominated by South Africa, where an increased number of installations have been carried out in recent years under the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme.

South Africa now accounts for 65% (1 361 MW) of the continent's cumulative installed solar PV capacity, Algeria for 13% (274 MW), Réunion for 9% (180 MW) and Egypt for 1% (25 MW). Uganda, Namibia and Kenya also account for around 1% each, with between 20 MW and 24 MW each.