Africa’s Solar Future

March 25, 2018

undefinedIn the wake of the cabinet shake-up that accompanied Ramaphosa’s ascent to the presidency, Jeff Radebe, South Africa's new Minister of Energy has announced that projects which formed part of last round of approved renewable energy bids will be signed, bringing a ZAR 56bn ($4.76bn) injection of funds into the country's renewable energy sector.

This move may restore some of the previous high regard with which the South Africa renewable energy programme was held and it is said, will create some 60,000 jobs in the process.

At the beginning of March, Radebe announced that the 27 renewable energy projects previously approved through the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Programme (REIPPP) will be signed, despite a delay of two years.

“We have reached this milestone after a long period of uncertainty, but with this signing we are re-confirming government’s commitment not only to renewable energy, but also to a solid partnership with the private sector as we pursue our energy transition objectives,” Radebe said.

The current draft of the South African Integrated Resource Plan indicates that the country is still actively pursuing renewable energy levels in excess of 7,000MW by 2020, produced predominantly by wind, solar and CSP technologies.

Solar power is being used extensively across Africa as a method of rural electrification, and has seen significant uptake due to the support of numerous organisations such as Akon Lighting, responsible for donating 20 solar street lights as well as a solar system for a school, health centre, mosque and market at Sare Pateh Jamwelly in Kombo North district, Gambia.

According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), “investing in renewable energy in Africa makes good business sense. Renewable energy technologies are now the most economical solution for o-grid and mini-grid electrification in remote areas, as well as for grid extension…”

These initiatives are being supported by the African Development Bank (AfDB), which, along with the International Solar Alliance, will support the AfDB’s ‘Desert to Power’ solar programme which aims to develop 10,000MW of solar power systems across the Sahel.

This is further coupled with support by the World Bank Group, which has launched the ‘Scaling Solar’, programme, set to provide a “one-stop shop” for governments wanting to attract private investors to build large-scale solar plants in sub-Saharan Africa.

Increasingly solar energy is being seen as a good investment opportunity. As the fastest and cheapest way to light up Africa, the easiest to deploy, decentralised and effective source of power available. As investment into solar increases across Africa, some key investment figures to consider: 

  • Google has invested $12mn in the Jasper power plant, a 100MW solar project in South Africa.
  • Husk Power Systems has announced a $20mn equity investment from Shell, Swedfund, and ENGIE into the solar PV minigrid company.
  • Cape Town-based Inspired Evolution will invest $36mn into solar developer Alten RE Developments Africa BV and its 225MW power portfolio.

The African Construction Expo, Africa’s key event for the construction industry taking place in Johannesburg from 16 – 17 May 2018, has introduced the Solar Zone at the event this year to support the drive towards a consistent use of renewable energy sources in Africa.

Participants will have the opportunity to learn first-hand about the business opportunities in the solar industry in Africa by engaging with government officials as well as private stakeholders operating in the sector.

More information about exhibiting, sponsoring and visiting the expo is available at www.totallyconcrete.co.za .

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