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Sudanís Renewable Energy Master Plan Study


Mr. Mohammed Ali Hamid, Dr. Ahmed Hassan Hood, Mr. Ahmed M. H. El-Refaie, Dr. Mohamed Osman Sid-Ahmed, Dr. Mohammed Hashim Siddig, Dr. Azmi Taha, Mr. Stephen Karekezi and Ms. Waeni Kithyoma


Before delving into discussion of Sudanís energy resources, it is first important to review key general characteristics of Sudan that have important implications for the countryís energy sector and renewables industry, in particular. With an area of 2,376,000km2 (World Bank, 2004 & AFREPREN, 2005;), Sudan is Africaís largest country which increases the cost of ensuring adequate energy services to all its communities found in different parts of the country. Sudanís population is estimated at over 35million, growing at an average annual rate of 2.18% (World Bank, 2004) with a significantly large proportion of young people who require employment.

The energy sector could be an important contributor to job generation that would employ the growing number of young people entering to the job market every year. The urban population is estimated at 38%, and is expected to grow rapidly in the near future. Consequently, urban energy demand is expected to grow rapidly. While traditionally, it was believed that the bulk of the poor were found in rural areas, the picture is changing with rapid urbanization. A growing number of the poor are now found in urban areas and their need for adequate energy services will need to be addressed by Sudanís policy makers. Sudanís GDP increased from US$5billion in the early nineties to almost $15billion in 2002. The GDP growth rate in 2002 was estimated at 5.5% (World Bank, 2002) close to double the population growth rate. A large proportion of the growth is attributed to the energy sector Ė primarily revenues flows from a rapidly growing oil industry that is able to meet the bulk of local petroleum demand as well as generate a very substantial growth in oil exports.

The per capita income was estimated at USD340 in 2002. A significant proportion of the population lives in poverty, with limited access to resources and incomes. The southern region of the country has registered the highest poverty levels over the years primarily due to political instability and simmering conflict that has now been brought under control with the recent signing of major peace agreements. The current political process in Sudan is likely to lead to a significant change in the development of the country.

A peace agreement signed in January 2005 is currently being implemented, and is expected to result in better integration of the Southern Sudan in the national development process. Of particular interest has been the agreement to share oil revenues in an equitable fashion. Several processes have been initiated to build on the peace dividend with one of the most important being the Joint Assessment Missions, that have highlighted key development projects that should be given priority in the South; and the preparation of an interim poverty reduction strategy for Southern Sudan, which is ongoing and which will be merged with the existing draft poverty reduction paper and which is expected to provide the basis for more equitable development of the country as well as drastic reduction in poverty levels.

A national initiative on Sudanís strategies for achieving the MDGs has also been launched by the Ministry of Finance. These initiatives are likely to result in a significant reduction in poverty levels, and accelerated as well as more equitable development of Sudan.

Sudan - Key Socio-Economic and Energy Indicators

Population (million)


Gross Domestic Product (million USD)


Gross National Product (GNP) per capita (USD)

340 (2002)

Energy Resources

Oil, natural gas, biomass, hydro, solar, wind, geothermal

Sources: World Bank, 2004; AFREPREN, 2004; El Rafaie, 2005

Sudan is endowed with diverse energy resources ranging from oil, natural gas, biomass, hydro, solar, wind and geothermal. Oil production was recently estimated to be in the region of 343,000 barrels per day, a significant increase from 270,000barrels per day in 2003. There are plans to increase oil production to 500,000 barrels per day in 2005. The signing of the peace agreement is likely to lead to increased investment in oil exploration and production.

As of 2004, Sudanís grid connected installed power generation capacity was estimated at 728MW (off grid capacity is believed to be over 1GW), with about 56% of the electricity generated from fossil fuels, and about 44% from large hydro. The first unit of a major hydro power project is planned for completion in 2008. This investment project is eventually expected to supply an additional 1,250MW to the national grid Ė almost doubling the current installed capacity. About 30% of the population in Sudan has access to electricity, mainly in urban areas. Meeting the energy needs of about 70% of the population with no access to electricity remains a key development challenge that faces the country.

Biomass energy supplies over 70% of the population, and is mainly used in traditional and inefficient forms. Efforts have been initiated over the years to develop and disseminate improved cookstoves, with less than encouraging results. There are also opportunities for developing improved biomass energy options, particularly biomass co-generation in agro industries and production of biofuels. Sudan has significant solar resources, estimated at 6.1 kWh/m2 per day, and available almost all year round. Wind speed resources are estimated at 3-5m/s, although these could be higher speeds along the Red Sea coast. Small hydro potential is also available in the southern region of Sudan.

There is also significant geothermal potential in the country, estimated at 400MW of power generation capacity (NEC, 2004) which is equivalent to about 50% of the countryís 2004 grid connect installed power capacity. Data on geothermal resources is however, not fully reliable and needs to carefully verified with additional studies and assessments. Despite these vast resources, there has been limited exploitation of renewable energy in Sudan. This masterplan study reviews the status of renewables in Sudan. Commissioned by the PV Programme Ė a joint initiative of the Government of Sudan and UNDP, this consultancy has the following key objectives (as per the latest TOR):

  • Review the current status of renewable energy development in Sudan, assess the prospects and propose a masterplan for policy development and systematic implementation of programs for promoting and commercialization of renewable energy applications including appropriate institutional structure and linkages; and,

  • Facilitate through a master plan, a progressively increasing contribution from renewable sources of energy as part of the national energy balance and therebyt helping to improve energy services especially in rural areas, reduce dependence on conventional energy, and lead to environmentally sound and sustainable development.

As highlighted earlier, Sudan has vast renewable energy resources. However, in order to ensure that renewables are taken seriously in Sudanís energy plans, it is important to demonstrate the success of renewables using a selection of renewables that can be developed in the next 2-3years fairly easily. The selection of these technologies the technologies that should be considered as quick winners, based on resource potential, cost competitiveness, successful pilot projects and availability of local skills and expertise on the technology (see following graph).

Selection of Renewables for Short Term Development in Sudan

The masterplan study suggests a number of renewables that should be fast-tracked for development in Sudan (quick winners), to generate rapid results and impact in the near future. It contains a set of proposals for the implementation of these quick winners. The renewables that can be considered quick winners in the case of Sudan (can be implemented in the near term before the window of opportunity for RETs passes, to demonstrate success in RE and avoid technology lock-in to an oil-based energy sector). Each of the proposals is expected to have a substantial awareness creation component aimed at senior policy makers who are now coming on board as a result of the comprehensive peace agreement (CPA).

Solar PV for institutions and water pumping

Key near-term potential market of PV systems in rural institutions can be divided to the following segments:

  1. Solar PV lighting systems for Khalwas (Koranic schools) and schools.
  2. Solar PV lighting systems for Hospitals and health centers.
  3. Solar PV lighting systems and solar powered TV for Villages' Clubs.
  4. Solar water pumping systems for domestic use.
  5. Solar PV systems for telecommunications which is normally taken care of by telecom companies, so it will not be considered in this plan.

The following table presents investments required to exploit the near term potential market to be considered for implementation for the five sectors.

Proposed Solar PV Systems and Estimated Cost


Khalwa (Koranic schools)

Basic School

Secondary School

Villages Club

Health Facility


Number of
Solar Systems







Power in KWp







Cost in MUSD







It is estimated that the near term potential market for solar pumping systems for domestic use to be in the region of 50 PV systems for each of Sudanís 26 states. Therefore, the total potential for the 26 states is 1300 solar pumping systems. The size of the pumping system depends on the quantity of water to be delivered and the total dynamic head which varies from state to another. However an average estimated cost of USD25, 000 can be considered per system including system cost, transport to site and installation. The total investment cost of 1300 solar pumping system would therefore total USD32.5 million. Building on the successful UNDP/GEF/Government of Sudan PV project, it would appear that a project budget of about USD 3 million over 5years would be sufficient to mobilize local and end-users finance for the above combined investment for solar PV for lighting and pumping of about USD 60 million.

Solar Water Heaters for industrial applications:
With an estimated annual budget of about US$170,000, the Masterplan proposes a pilot project on solar water heaters primarily targeted at industrial applications where demand is likely to be high.

Proposed Solar Water Heater Initiative in Sudan



Budget (Sudanese Pounds)

US $

Data Collection

4 weeks



Selection of a soft drinks factory

1 week



Detailed Proposal

2 weeks



Purchasement and installation of the system

16 weeks




12 weeks



Monitoring and follow-up

12 weeks







Biomass cogeneration for agro-industries
There is already a vibrant co-generation industry in Sudan with an estimated installed capacity of close to 60MW, most of which is accounted by the Kenana sugar company which had 40MW co-generation facility back in the 1980s. There are five other sugar companies with installed co-generation facilities of less than 10MW each. To further develop this important option, it is suggested that a project of about USD250,000 per year would be adequate to engineer a major increase in co-generation contribution to Sudanís power sector.

Wind pumping for water lifting
This project will install 40 pilot units of wind pumps in ten locations around the country. The wind pumps are to include imported horizontal-axis units and locally fabricated low-cost units of the Savonius type. The pilot is expected to last 1-2 years followed by the preparation of a more comprehensive long term program for wide scale dissemination of wind pumps. The pilot program is estimated to cost USD210, 000 per year and involve five senior experts personnel and about 10 junior project personnel.

Proposed Wind Development in Sudan



Gross cost of 20 HAWP[1]

50 000

Gross cost of 20 VAWP[2]

20 000

Transportation of units

2 000

Installation cost

10 000


44 000

Training expenses

10 000

Pay for personnel

54 000


190 000

Contingency (10%)

20 000


210 000

Cross-cutting Studies
In addition, the Masterplan proposes two cross-cutting studies. The first cross-cutting study proposed by the Masterplan is designed to address the serious absence of reliable data on existing and potential market for various renewable energy technologies. Without this baseline data, it is virtually impossible to undertake comprehensive planning as well as raise finance from potential donors and investors. This study is expected to collect data on the following :

  • Solar PV: number of PV units disseminated, installed capacity, market potential, credit mechanisms, key barriers to expansion (most of this data is available in the PV project documents)
  • Solar Thermal: number of units, installed capacity, market potential (commercial and industrial enterprises that need hot water), contribution of water heating in commercial/institutional entities to peak electricity demand, key barriers to expansion
  • Biomass cogeneration: no. of existing co-generation facilities, installed capacity, whether connected to the grid, key barriers to expansion
  • Wind pumping: estimated number in use, market potential, number of potential manufactures, key barriers to development of wind pumping industry
  • Small hydro: Estimated number of small hydro plants, Number of engineering facilities with capacity to manufacture small hydro components, estimated number of small hydro sites, estimated capacity of small hydro sites, key barriers to development.

In addition, this study project will include the commissioning of regular surveys to collect data on renewables, as well as institutionalization of the data collection in order to ensure continuity. About USD250,000 would be needed every year to effectively implement this initiative.

The second cross-sectoral study will investigate the potential of other renewables that have not been identified as quick but with in the medium to long-term could deliver significant benefits to Sudan.The study will prioritize the options that are best suited for development in the context of a rapidly evolving energy sector (growing availability of fossil fuels such as LPG, natural gas and construction of 1250MW Merowe hydro power plant due to come on stream in 2008). Medium and long term options to be assessed include:

  • Energy from urban waste
  • Modern and improved bioenergy options (improved cookstoves, biofuels, improved brickmaking kilns, energy plantations)
  • Wind Generation
  • Small hydro for rural mini-grids
  • Solar Thermal Electric
  • Geothermal
  • Wave power

The estimated budget for the above cross-sectoral study would be in the region of USD250, 000 every year. In summary, the Masterplan proposes to launch the following near-term projects over the next years with an estimated total budget of USD9.05 million, equivalent to USD1.8million per year. This investment can be financed from grants from development partners. With growing interest in Sudan from both bilateral and multilateral donors, it should be possible to mobilize up to 10 times this amount per annum in form of soft loans,

Estimated Budget for Short Term Development of Renewables in Sudan Ė Grant Financed

Project title

Estimated budget (2005-2010)

Solar PVs for institutions & water pumping

USD 3,000,000

Biomass cogeneration for agro-industries

USD 1,250,000

Solar Water Heaters for industrial applications

USD 1,250,000

Wind pumping for water lifting

USD 1,050,000

Cross-cutting study on existing and potential market

USD 1,250,000

Cross-cutting study on medium and long-term renewable energy options and data collection 


Grand total

USD 9,050,000

The estimated additional co-financing required for development in the short term is shown in Table 6.
Additional co-financing for short term plan (soft loans)


Estimated co-financing
Million USD















The Medium term plan (2006-2010) is expected to promote other renewables which at present are not yet fully economically proven but which are likely to become competitive in certain niches in the next years. The proposed renewable options to be addressed in the medium term include:
  • Small hydro for rural mini-grids
  • Geothermal
  • Energy from urban waste
  • Modern and improved bioenergy options (improved cookstoves, biofuels, improved brickmaking kilns, energy plantations)
  • Wind Generation
  • Solar Thermal Electric
  • Wave power

The estimated cost of the medium term plan (2006-2010) is estimated to be about USD15, which can also be financed through grants from development partners. With increased interest from bilateral and multilateral donors (particularly the African Development Bank, the German Government (BMZ/GTZ) and the Global Environment Facility, GEF) it would be possible to raise up to 20times of this amount as co-financing the form of grants or soft loans. The estimated co-financing required for the medium term plan is shown in Table 7.

Additional co-financing for medium term plan (soft loans)


Estimated co-financing
Million USD















[1] Horizontal-axis wind pump.

[2]Vertical-axis wind pump (Savonius)


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