Sub-Saharan Africa is set to see more renewable energy come online this year than it has in the previous 14 years, proof that the region is becoming one of the most exciting markets to watch for renewable energy technologies such as onshore wind, small-scale and utility-scale solar, and geothermal power.
This is according to new research from Bloomberg New Energy Finance, which predicts that 1.8 GW of renewable energy is set to be commissioned in the region throughout 2014 — a relatively mammoth figure in comparison to previous years.
According to Bloomberg, “the advance of renewable energy in Africa reflects a combination of growing local need for power, and awareness that the cost per MWh of clean options such as wind and photovoltaics has declined sharply over recent years.”
Many analysts, myself included, have highlighted this fact in Africa’s growth — and the growth in other similar regions such as the Middle East and South America. The increase in production throughout much of the rest of the world has created efficient processes and ramped up innovation, creating an efficient and reliable technology. Africa is set to take advantage of these growth benefits, moving away from the traditional idea of burning fossil fuels.
“Sub-Saharan Africa is not new to renewable energy,” explains Victoria Cuming, senior analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance. “South Africa has been an active market for a few years and there have been occasional large investments in geothermal in the Rift Valley countries.
“What is different now is the breadth of activity, with wind, solar and geothermal exciting interest in many different countries, and the potential for further growth.”
Bloomberg predicts that the three largest markets for utility-scale renewable power over the 2014-16 period are set to be South Africa, Kenya, and Ehtiopia.
South Africa is likely set to install 3.9 GW worth of renewables, made up primarily of wind, with smaller amounts of photovoltaic solar and thermal solar. Kenya will install 1.4 GW, made up mainly of geothermal and wind, while Ethiopia will install nearly 570 MW of wind and geothermal.
(Renewable energy figures exclude large hydro-electric projects.)