According to a new study, fossil fuels are set to dominate the energy mix in Africa unless urgent action is taken to shake up the way renewable energy projects are developed and financed.
What is Happening?
- The study, published in the Nature Energy journal, found that as electricity generation doubles by 2030, fossil fuels will maintain about two-thirds of power generation. While this is down from about 80% today, this will have detrimental consequences for the future as the planet continues to warm.
- The researchers analysed nearly 3 000 past power projects across Africa that were both successfully built and that never made it. They then applied this model to data on a pipeline of about 2 500 plants currently being planned to determine the likelihood that they will be commissioned. The results showed that projections for the growth of renewable power in Africa from the International Energy Agency may be overoptimistic.
- The study says that less than 10% of power generation in Africa would come from renewables other than hydro power in 2030, about half of what the IEA projected in a 2019 report,
- The study suggests that fossil fuel subsidies need to be phased out, financing for fossil fuel projects need to end and an effective carbon price must be implemented.
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- Africa’s share of carbon emissions will rise as the population continues to grow and economies industrialise further.
- Thankfully, some countries in Africa are making serious efforts to transition towards low-carbon technologies, low-carbon and resilient infrastructure as well as low-carbon tax systems. Morocco is home to the world’s largest concentrated solar facility to help achieve the country’s goal of generating 52% of its energy by 2030. It serves as a clean energy source for around 2 million Moroccans and it also offers training programmes for women for entrepreneurial and agricultural activities. South Africa’s Carbon Tax Act came into effect in June 2019 and is expected to reduce the country’s emissions by 33% compared to the baseline by 2035. Further, the country has recently held renewable energy auctions which have led to solar and wind prices lower than those of the national utility or from new coal plants. Finally, Nigeria has set a renewable energy target of 30% by 2030. To do this, it will need both grid-based and decentralised renewable energy investments.
- The UK is home to more solar power capacity than the entire continent, but obstacles hinder renewable energy capacity addition, ranging from political interests to lack of infrastructure.