By Paul Homewood
A new study into Africa’s energy generation landscape uses a state-of-the-art machine-learning technique to analyse the pipeline of more than 2,500 planned power plants and their chances of successful commission.
The study shows the share of non-hydro renewables in African electricity generation is likely to remain below 10% in 2030, although this varies by region.
The research, published in Nature Energy, from the University of Oxford predicts that total electricity generation across the African continent will double by 2030, with fossil fuels continuing to dominate the energy mix – posing potential risk to global climate change commitments.
“Africa’s electricity demand is set to increase significantly as the continent strives to industrialise and improve the wellbeing of its people, which offers an opportunity to power this economic development through renewables,” says Galina Alova, study lead author and researcher at the Oxford Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment.
Aloya adds: “There is a prominent narrative in the energy planning community that the continent will be able to take advantage of its vast renewable energy resources and rapidly decreasing clean technology prices to leapfrog to renewables by 2030 – but our analysis shows that overall it is not currently positioned to do so.”
The study predicts that in 2030, fossil fuels will account for two-thirds of all generated electricity across Africa. While an additional 18% of generation is set to come from hydro-energy projects. These have their own challenges, such as being vulnerable to an increasing number of droughts caused by climate change. (SIC!!!)
Green energy out of reach
The study further suggests that a decisive move towards renewable energy in Africa would require a significant shock to the current system. This includes large-scale cancellation of fossil fuel plants currently being planned.
In addition, the study identifies ways in which planned renewable energy projects can be designed to improve their success chances – for example, smaller size, fitting ownership structure, and availability of development finance.
“The development community and African decision-makers need to act quickly if the continent wants to avoid being locked into a carbon-intense energy future’ says Philipp Trotter, study author and researcher at the Smith School.
“Immediate re-directions of development finance from fossil fuels to renewables are an important lever to increase experience with solar and wind energy projects across the continent in the short term, creating critical learning curve effects.”
I don’t know about “machine learning”, but I do know about common sense! And the facts show us that wind and solar power are a side show in Africa, amounting to less than 2% of primary energy consumption in 2019:
BP Energy Review
In contrast, fossil fuels account for 91%, and consumption of coal, gas and oil has grown by 22% over the period.
Small scale wind and solar units certainly have an application at a local level – for instance, powering remote villages which have no reliable access to grid power. But African governments know that they cannot run hospitals, industry or any of the other trappings of a modern economy on the vagaries of renewable energy.
There is, of course, another side to the coin as well. The economies of several African states rely heavily on the production of fossil fuels, not to mention government revenues.
S Africa produce 4% of the world’s coal, and the continent also supplies 6% of the world’s gas and 9% of its oil. As well as the N African producers of Libya, Egypt, Tunisia and Algeria, countries such as Angola, Congo, Guinea, Gabon, Nigeria and Sudan are all heavily dependent on oil and gas production.
Which makes it all the more disgusting when western experts want to force the continent away from fossil fuels by withholding finance:
“Immediate re-directions of development finance from fossil fuels to renewables are an important lever to increase experience with solar and wind energy projects across the continent in the short term”
This is economic colonialism at its worst. Indeed one would be tempted to think that many western liberals actually want Africans to remain in poverty.
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January 19, 2021 at 05:30AM