The study also expects that fossil fuel will still be dominant in Africa’s energy mix by the end of the decade, accounting for two-thirds of all generated electricity across Africa, posing a potential risk to global climate change commitments.
An estimated 18% of the generation is set to come from hydro-energy projects, which have their own challenges, such as being vulnerable to an increasing number of droughts caused by climate change.
The study, which looked 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 it varies by region.
What there are saying
Galina Alova, Study Lead Author and Researcher at the Oxford Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment said that:
- “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.”
- “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.”
Philipp Trotter, Study Author and Researcher at the Smith School said:
- “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. 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.”
What you should know
- The study 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.
- Fossil fuels include coal, petroleum, natural gas, oil shales, bitumen, tar sands, and heavy oils. All contain carbon and were formed as a result of geologic processes acting on the remains of organic matter produced by photosynthesis, a process that began in the Archean Eon (4.0 billion to 2.5 billion years ago).
- These non-renewable fuels supply about 80 percent of the world’s energy. They provide electricity, heat, and transportation, while also feeding the processes that make a huge range of products, from steel to plastics.