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A Recent Study Shows the Potential for Renewable Energy to Fuel Africa by 2040

  • By 2040, 76% of all electricity needed in Africa could be generated from renewable sources.
  • A new database, the Renewable Power Plant Database Africa, has been created to provide information on current and future renewable energy projects.
  • Although hydropower has been the primary source of renewable energy, solar and wind are becoming more cost-effective options.
  • It is crucial for African countries to share electricity and data across borders to ensure a stable supply of renewable energy.

More than half of Africa’s population, around 600 million people, do not have access to basic electricity. The challenge is how to expand access without increasing reliance on fossil fuels and contributing to global warming.

A team from Rwanda and Germany, specializing in renewable energy scientific modeling, created the Renewable Power Plant Database Africa. This database analyzes available open data on hydro, wind, and solar energy sources.

The database reveals that some countries, like Nigeria and Zimbabwe, have enough projects in progress to potentially shift away from fossil fuels by 2050. It also shows that 76% of Africa’s electricity needs could be met by renewable resources by 2040, if current and planned projects are fully utilized.

Hydropower has been the dominant renewable energy source, but the decreasing costs of solar and wind technologies suggest a shift towards a more sustainable energy mix in the future.

Combining hydropower with solar and wind energy would be a more sustainable approach than relying solely on hydropower. Hybrid solutions are considered the best option moving forward.

Transnational electricity sharing agreements are essential for the development of a sustainable renewable energy mix in Africa. Open access to data specific to locations is also crucial for this development.

Insights from the Data

A comprehensive database was created by compiling information on 1,074 hydropower, 1,128 solar, and 276 wind power plants in Africa. This database includes details on plant locations, construction status, and capacity.

Some countries have enough renewable energy projects in the pipeline to potentially transition away from fossil fuels. Hydropower is a significant source of renewable electricity for countries like Eswatini, Angola, and Tanzania.

Hybrid solutions combining wind and solar power may be more reliable in meeting the energy demands of a growing population in Africa. The cost-effectiveness of wind and solar technologies makes them favorable options for the future.

Sharing electricity, data, and experiences across borders is crucial for a successful renewable energy transition in Africa. Collaboration and information sharing among countries can mitigate potential environmental impacts and ensure sustainable energy development.

Global Initiatives for Clean Energy Transition

The World Economic Forum is actively addressing the energy transition challenge through initiatives like Mobilizing Investment for Clean Energy in Emerging Economies and Clean Power, Grids, and Electrification. These initiatives aim to accelerate clean energy production and investment, supporting global net-zero targets.

This article is published in collaboration with The Conversation.

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