Solar could be a bright future for Africa as costs fall

Solar is a strong contender to bridging the energy gap throughout Africa now that costs have fallen over the past few years, Irena says.

Solar is a strong contender to bridging the energy gap throughout Africa, as installation costs fell by as much as 61 per cent over the past four years, the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena) said today.

A report by the Abu Dhabi-headquartered organisation said that installed costs for solar photovoltaic (PV) projects are as low as US$1.30 per watt in Africa compared with the global average of $1.80 per watt.

“In recent years, solar PV costs have dropped dramatically and will continue to do so with further declines of up to 59 per cent possible in the next 10 years,” said the Irena director general Adnan Amin. “These cost reductions, coupled with vast solar potential on the continent, present a huge opportunity for Africa,” he said.

“It has never been more possible, and less expensive for Africa to realise this potential.”

With about 70 per cent of people in Sub-Saharan Africa without electricity, Dubai’s Access Power is about to switch on its Soroti solar power plant in Uganda which will bring electricity to 40,000 homes.

“Last year, four of the top 10 fastest growing economies in the world were in Africa and as this continent grows, it will present investment opportunities in both the utility scale sector as well as the off-grid market,” said Reda El Chaar, executive chairman of Access. He added that it was not easy to get projects off the ground in Africa because of a lack of regulatory framework, which increases project risk, as well as limited infrastructure.

“But all of these challenges can be overcome,” he said.

lgraves@thenational.ae

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Published: September 22, 2016 04:00 AM

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