M a r k e t N e w s

Africa primed for solar PV boom

Posted on : Thursday, 29th September 2016

 The cost of solar PV projects in Africa has plummeted by over 60 per cent in the last four years, paving the way for a 'boom' in solar deployment over the coming decade.

That is the conclusion of a major new study from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), entitled Solar PV in Africa: Costs and Markets, which argues installed costs for total installed costs for new African solar PV projects now average $1.30 per watt, compared to a global average of $1.80 per watt.
"In recent years, solar PV costs have dropped dramatically and will continue to do so with further declines of up to 59 per cent possible in the next ten years," said IRENA director-general Adnan Z. Amin in a statement. "These cost reductions, coupled with vast solar potential on the continent, present a huge opportunity for Africa. Both grid-connected and off-grid solar PV now offer a cost-competitive means to meet rising energy needs and bring electricity to the 600 million Africans who currently lack access."
The report details how solar power is now consistently undercutting alternative energy options across Africa, either through solar-powered mini-grids or off grid household systems. It details how solar systems can deliver power to off-grid households for as little as $56 a year, comfortably undercutting what many households are forced to pay for poor quality energy services.
Consequently, the African solar market is enjoying rapid growth, albeit from a low base. The report says more than 800MW of new solar PV capacity was added in Africa in 2014 - doubling the continent's cumulative capacity - with a further 750MW added in 2015. IRENA estimates that with the right enabling policies, Africa could be home to more than 70GW 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 Amin. "It has never been more possible, and less expensive for Africa to realise this potential."
The report comes in the same week that it emerged a proposed solar farm in Abu Dhabi was on track to claim the title for lowest cost energy project in the world, with a bid to deliver over 1.1GW of capacity at a cost of 2.30 cents per kWh.
In related news, renewable energy developer Mainstream Renewable Power announced this week that its African joint venture Lekela Power has inked an agreement with the US government's Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), which will see the development finance institution commit $250m in financing and $70m in reinsurance to a planned a 158MW wind farm in Taiba N'Diaye, Senegal.
"This is a transformative project for many reasons, principally for the new and clean energy it will supply to Senegal," said OPIC president and chief executive Elizabeth L. Littlefield. "OPIC partnering with Lekela illustrates the opportunity for renewable resources to make a significant contribution to total energy needs. OPIC is proud to support the Taiba wind project and its role in advancing Senegal's economic prosperity."
The project is expected to increase Senegal's available installed power capacity by 24 per cent, making a major contribution to efforts to improve energy access and tackle power rationing and blackouts.
The news comes just days after Lekela Power officially inaugurated its Noupoort Wind Farm in South Africa, which is expected to generate around 304,800MWh of clean renewable energy and eliminate approximately 300,000 tonnes of carbon emissions each year.

Source : www.businessgreen.com
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