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South Africa is one of a range of developing countries that have emerged as leaders in the global race to switch to sustainable energy by 2030 according to the World Bank.Some 40 percent of 111 countries surveyed by the World Bank had strong policies to improve people's access to reliable and affordable energy, make industries and homes more energy efficient, and increase countries' use of renewable energy.They include China, India, Vietnam, South Africa, Brazil, Mexico and Turkey, which have emerged as leaders alongside developed countries.But richer developed countries must do far more to promote energy efficiency or global warming will continue longer with serious consequences.We are in a race against time to reach our 2030 energy goals and to get there we will need a lot of investment and a lot of money - both private and public.The energy goals are enshrined in a set of international sustainable development goals (SDGs) agreed in 2015 to curb poverty and end hunger.Giving people access to power creates jobs, improves healthcare and education, and makes communities safer to live in. The energy goals also underpin the 2015 Paris climate change agreement to keep global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by reducing emissions.
Uganda has joined the ranks of Sub-Saharan national governments launching ambitious off-grid solar power campaigns. In addition to the anticipated, broad-based benefits to society and the environment, the Ugandan government’s recently announced off-grid renewable energy initiative should boost the fortunes of local, entreprenuerial solar start-ups, such as ARED (African Renewable Energy Distributor) and Village Power. Incorporating solar PV and battery-based energy storage, ARED’s mobile solar kiosks provide low-cost Internet access, mobile phone charging and a growing range of public information services in a growing network of rural communities in Sub-Saharan Africa. Employing a micro-franchise model that only requires payment of a small, one-time fee, qualified franchisees own and operate mobile solar kiosks in partnership with ARED. Having proven its technology, installations are on the rise, which is opening up new business and creating new employment opportunities in rural communities, according to the company.
In conjunction with the UNDP, the government of Benin will implement a biomass project to generate power. The initiative, which also encompasses the development of isolated mini-grids for the distribution of energy produced, is part of the national policy to mitigate the impacts of climate change. This project will build on significant private sector investment in the installation of four gasification plants with a total capacity of 4 MW. These four pilot centers will initially generate 76,651 MWh, a production that will stabilize thereafter around 24,498 MWh. The UNDP will provide the government of Benin support in establishing institutional policy and regulatory framework. The country produces 8 million tons of agricultural waste per year, only 55% of which is used. Through this project, the government plans to upgrade the remaining waste usually left in the fields.
Kenya’s Rural Electrification Authority (REA) said this week that it will invest $2.1 billion in the country’s electricity supply network over the next five years.The money has been earmarked to develop sufficient infrastructure that will connect all the public facilities such as churches, health centres, trading centres, mosques and public primary schools.the connection initiative will extend to include tea buying centres, coffee, factories and processing plants, police posts, water project and boreholes, secondary schools, institutions of higher learning, and vocational training centres. The plan focuses more on the use of renewable energy for provision of electricity to areas that are far away from the national grid. This is expected to enhance industrialization and emergence of cottage industries. since 2006, the energy authority, through its electricity connection programmes, has bumped up access from 30% in 2006 to 70% in 2016.The 2016/17-2020/2021 strategic plan targets to electrify the remaining public facilities and households within their vicinity by June 2018 and then focus on households
Government is tapping into renewable energy resources to be able to extend power to off the grid areas in Uganda. Government is setting up renewable energy policy framework which sets policies for increasing uptake of renewable energy in the country. The overall objective of this policy is to make renewable energy an alternative for energy sources. A standardised power purchase agreement for renewable energy projects of up to 20 megawatts to reduce on the transactional costs involved in small projects.The government is also supporting association of renewable energy providers to scale up their work and also address major challenges in the market such as the poor quality of products and build technological capacity. One such provider is Village Power. The firm's solar solutions for rural electrification provides affordable, sustainable and reliable electricity to off-grid areas and facilitate access to clean light, safe water, communication, information, medication and various business opportunities.
The U.S energy project known as "Power Africa" has added 30,000 new solar connections in Nigeria. The U.S Ambassador to Nigeria, Stuart Symington said in a statement in Abuja on Monday. U.S. through its Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) had in 2016 signed an agreement with Lumos, an off-grid electricity provider to enhance provision of solar electricity to homes and small businesses throughout Nigeria. The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Lumos was also a recipient of catalytic funding through OPIC and the Africa Clean Energy Finance initiative, a partner with the U.S. State Department. The funding provided crucial start-up capital for 30 innovative clean energy projects across 10 African countries. The envoy, accompanied by the Director, United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Mission, Mr Michael Harvey, had during a visit to customers of Lumos in Abuja stressed the need to expand electricity access in Nigeria. Lumos has added 30,000 new solar connections in Nigeria since the beginning of the partnership," he said. Symington, who also visited Beam Clinic and Maternity Centre, Trinity Clinic, and selected retailers, said his visit was to better understand how access to solar energy had improved their businesses and service delivery.
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Businesses that are struggling with high power bills have been advised to begin thinking of investing in solar energy plants to have a cheap and sustainable energy source for future needs. While closing a one-week training course for solar electricity technicians adivced businesses that are run on energy should begin thinking of investing in solar power plants because this is the future source of energy to power them. Solar electricity can power anything run by hydro-electricity. We have seen villages powered using solar electricity, fish factories, Islands, it depends on the investments and this is the future for Uganda.She added that in Europe, countries such as Germany are now switching to wind energy because electricity has proved too costly and for a developing country like Uganda with growing energy demands. Therefore citizens should be looking at exploiting solar energy for heating water, pumping water for irrigation rather than depending on fossil fuels that have adverse effects on the environment.The country is wasting away a cheaper, cleaner and sustainable natural source of energy which majority of Ugandans can benefit from. This is the way to go. The whole country is wasting this natural resource because we do not know how to tap it. We have many solar panels but people are gambling with them. This is a God-given opportunity, but we need more people who have knowledge and skill in solar technology.
The Sh6.42 billion power project for rural areas will begin this month, the Rural Electrification Authority has said. REA is targeting 16 counties where 591 public facilities and 35,460 households will be connected. The project is funded by a $63.465 million (Sh6.42 billion) loan from the Arab Bank for Economic Development, Abu Dhabi Bank for Development, Saudi Fund for Development, OPEC Fund for Development and the Kenyan government.The project is targeting five blocs: the Nyanza-Western, North Rift, South Rift, Mt Kenya, upper and lower Eastern, and Coast.So far five contracts have been awarded for each of the five regions, and now doing the mobilisation. Nothing has started yet but in the process of initiating the project.The authority is currently undertaking another 55 megawatt solar power project to boost power in rural areas. There are two ways to look at electrification in the rural areas. In terms of coverage of consumers, nationally it can be said that about 30 to 40 per cent has been covered. But in terms of public facilities, only about 70 per cent has been covered. The solar project, in the outskirts of Garissa town, will be financed by the China Exim Bank through a soft loan to the Kenyan government. The project is estimated to cost Sh13.8 billion, and will provide cheaper renewable energy to consumers in the rural areas and boost the national grid which generates 2,400 megawatts. In its five-year strategic plan, REA intends to spend Sh208 billion to increase power connections in rural areas.
Kenya has been praised for clean air, consumption of energy production and production of renewable energy. These factors make Kenya the world’s “least toxic” country. Kenya was followed by Tanzania, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Cameroon, Zambia, Indonesia, Zimbabwe, Brazil and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Uganda and Somalia had no data.The data was obtained from the International Energy Agency and World Health Organization. Data was used by renewable energy firm The Eco Experts to rank the most toxic countries. Some countries are not mentioned. In a report released in September last year, the International Energy Agency praises Kenya for passing a law requiring new buildings to be fitted with solar water heating systems, improving air quality. Kenya aims to eliminate kerosene use in households by 2022, and improved biomass cook-stoves are already relatively available in urban areas. The report says the most toxic countries include Saudi Arabia, which recorded the world’shighest air pollution. It was followed by Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, UAE, Oman, Turkmenistan, Libya, Kazakhstan, Trinidad andTobago. The report further says Africa faces many developmental and environmental challenges rooted in poverty. This is a source of a grave health burden on the population with air pollution from the energy sector increasingly a leading risk factor, it says. The report has attributed the deaths to outdoor pollution at more than 210 000 per year in 2012 and are less than half of those attributable to household air pollution. But the report notes concentrations of outdoor pollution are low in most areas relative to other world regions. “...but the emissions intensity of new economic activity is high,” it says. The major sources of outdoor air pollution include old and unregulated vehicles, smoke from indoor and outdoor cooking with biomass. Others are dust from dirt roads, coal-fired power generation and unregulated burning of wood and waste.
Azuri and Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC) have teamed up to bring power and jobs to rural households in Nigeria’s Niger Delta. The partnership between Azuri, in partnership with NDPHC, will launch its PayGo Solar Home Systems in Nigeria, to deliver affordable, clean energy to 20,000 rural households living without electricity. Unlike some other countries on the continent, Nigeria has been slow to adopt renewable energy as an alternative power solution to kerosene and other non-renewable resources. Azuri’s PayGo Solar Home systems have the capacity to power four LED bulbs providing up to eight hours of lighting, a radio, and a USB port with charging cables for mobile phones. Customers pay the monthly top-up rate via mobile money for 36 months after which time the unit can be unlocked and the customer owns the unit. Customers will also be provided with options to upgrade to a larger system in what Azuri describes as its energy escalator pathway. NDPHC is a government-funded initiative formed to add new capacity to Nigeria’s electricity supply system. Azuri’s partnership with NDPHC highlights the Nigerian government’s efforts to support roll out of off-grid solar systems and its commitment to renewable technologies as a sustainable way to generate electricity for rural communities. The deployment of 20,000 Azuri solar home systems is expected to create 500 direct jobs, including solar installer and agents (for a minimum of 24 months) and 5,000 indirect jobs. Azuri has carried out successful pilots within several communities in Abuja, Kwara and Osun states, installing nearly 200 solar home systems. The positive feedback from customers who have been making monthly payments is an encouraging indication that Nigerians are willing to pay for a reliable, affordable and easy-to-use source of energy. Following this launch, NDPHC, through the project plans to start a phased rollout in northern Nigeria, followed by a nationwide deployment, targeting the 70 million Nigerians living in off-grid communities with clean, sustainable and reliable solar home solutions.
The Africa Development Bank (ADB) has given a grant of $1m (about Shs3.5b) to Earth Energy Limited to develop a 20 MW Biomass power plant in northern Uganda in order to mitigate climate change due to deforestation. Currently, climate change is fundamentally a development issue which is threatening to worsen poverty and hurt economic growth if governments and development finance institutions do not take proactive approaches to mitigate it. Speaking during the signing of the grant in Kampala, the ADB resident representative in Uganda said there is need to mitigate climatic change in the country by use of renewable energy sources because it helps to reduce deforestation activities. Promoting renewables means providing secure and clean energy supply while supporting economic growth and economic development at large without destroying the environment like deforestation which is causing rapid climatic change being experienced at the moment in Uganda. ADB does not only work with government but also with the private sector to support their development projects which are beneficial the economy and the communities. The purpose of the grant grant is to finance certain expenditure required to support the development process of the construction and operation of a 20 MW base load biomass power plant. The expenditures consist of the development of an environment and social impact assessment, the development of a technical feasibility study which includes a full feasibility study, a biomass feasibility and feedstock Study, a detailed engineering design study and a power evaluation study. The grant will also finance project management activities such as the recruitment of a procurement specialist and the audit of the grant use. The development of the project will take 18 months, at a cost of $50m (Shs180b) to $70m (Shs250b) and will cover most districts in northern Uganda. The project is timely and very important because when completed it is going to provide renewable energy source to local people in the northern Uganda; it will not only provide renewable energy but it will also create employment opportunities for the people in the region. Uganda relies heavily on hydroelectricity power which is being affected by climatic change because it uses water sources which at times dry up during dry season thus affecting power generation.
After spending the last several years working to expand its renewable energy industry, Morocco is now faced with the prospect of up to a half a million sector jobs by 2040. According to a report produced by the Mediterranean Forum of Institute of Economic Sciences, the North African nation renewable leader could see up to 500,000 jobs emerging from its green power sector within the next 23 years. Starting a few years ago, the Moroccan government got serious about building the country’s renewable capacity to help meet domestic demand and tap into growing interest from Europe for new energy sources. Frustrated with space constraints and resource uncertainty, Europe had begun exploring the idea of tapping into North Africa’s solar and wind potential with proposals for sprawling projects meant to cushion EU demand and help countries reach 20 percent by 2020 renewable goals. In Morocco, this was followed by government energy efficiency campaigns and funding for renewable projects, setting a 42 percent renewable goal by 2020. Anchored by a $9 billion solar plan announced in 2009, the country’s renewable path was meant to both establish the country as a green leader in North Africa and remove the threat of price fluctuations brought on by its dependence on imports. And until recently, that was limit of the country’s energy outlook. In the years since, the country’s progress in the sector has continued, with most of the country’s labor potential arising from the Noor-Ouazazate solar complex, centered on solar power projects. The complex has allowed the Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy to boost its target of 4GW of renewable capacity within 3 years to 10GW by 2030, according to media reports.
The Egyptian ministry of electricity is gearing up to present Cabinet with a memorandum that supports the development of the renewables sector. According to Government sources, the memo includes a report of the current surplus of generated electricity, which amounts to 4,000MW a day. In addition, the document challenges the latest discussions regarding the Gulf of Suez wind farm, which will be implemented by Toyota alliance, and the requests issued by investors around the renewable energy feed-in tariff projects. Companies involved in the second phase of the feed-in tariff have according to sources, filed formal requests to the New and Renewable Energy Authority (NREA) to amend the solar energy projects tariff. In addition, the investors have stressed that “they want to reduce the specified value for land use by roughly 1% of the produced energy, and abolish the value of cost-sharing related to road works and transformer stations. The investors seek to amend the structure of payment in the solar energy tariff, which is related to fixing 30% of the tariff value at the price EGP 8.8 to the US dollar. The new amendment will be based on the dollar exchange rate on the due date of repayments. According to media, the memo includes investor announcements of the financial models of the companies that have been approved, in order to start implementation. The Ministry of Electricity sent contracts and agreements signed with investors in the first phase of the feed-in tariff to the cabinet a week ago for approval, but the cabinet had not approved it so far.
East Africa’s leading cement producer, Mombasa Cement, has announced its plans to construct a 36MW wind farm in Kilifi, Kenya, for its own use and sale to Kenya Power. The cement manufacturer said this move forms part of its plans to increase revenue as it explores the potential of it becoming an independent power producer (IPP). The project, which will consist of 12 turbines of 3MW each, will cost an estimated Sh260 million ($2 million). The electricity generated from the wind farm will be evacuated via overhead cables to an existing sub-station within Mombasa Cement premises for feeding into the national grid. The wind park is planned to be erected on 1,200 acres of land that Mombasa Cement owns in Vipingo, on which it already operates a clinker factory that feeds its main plant in Athi River. This land is at an elevation of between seven and 15 meters above the ocean and there is a steep cliff at its eastern edge towards the ocean. This makes designing of an onshore wind farm less complex. The landscape can be characterised as flat...which makes its accessibility relatively convenient and movement of turbines during installation, service and maintenance relatively convenient. This project is the latest in a string of wind farms being installed across the country. The project should be fully connected to the national electricity grid and producing power by the end of June this year. The Lake Turkana project is set to boost the country's capacity by 310MW. It is reported that the Kenya Electricity Generating Company is currently the country's sole wind power producer; however, its capacity is just 25.5MW. Once the project begins feeding into the national grid, it is expected to boost the country's total current power generation capacity of about 2,341MW.
A R400m waste-to-energy conversion plant was officially opened in Athlone, Cape Town with high hopes of reducing the city's landfill sites and creating jobs. This is an exciting addition to the green economy in Cape Town. It symbolised the city's move from being a distributor of electricity to generating electricity in its goal of having 20% renewable energy as part of its energy mix. The city wanted to give the citizens of Cape Town greater choice on what type of energy they wanted. The mayor of the town felt it was wrong that Eskom had a monopoly and forced the city to purchase its fossil-fuel power. There were plans to challenge this in court, on the grounds that the city should be allowed to source energy directly from independent power producers. The sprawling plan was thought to be the first of its kind in Africa, and would pave the way for more plants to turn rubbish into gas. The project fit into the province's plans of being the hub of the green economy. The project is a collaboration between Waste Mart and Clean Energy Africa, and will be run by New Horizons Energy. New Horizons Energy CEO said the city generated around 8000 tons of waste a day. If another eight plants of the kind unveiled were built, there would be no more need for landfill sites. Cape Town was perfect for the first plant because of its high landfill prices, a progressive government, and a shortage of gas. The plant would use 500 tons of organic household, municipal, and industrial waste per day, in an anaerobic digestive process, to produce methane, food-grade carbon dioxide, and organic fertilizer. The plant could supply around 4% to 5% of the city's liquid petroleum gas requirement. Clean Energy Africa CEO said there was a noticeable link between economic growth and increased waste. Plants such as theirs provided a "zero waste" landfill facility because everything produced by the mechanical processes was used. In addition, the people who worked there would not have to pick through waste like those at rubbish dumps. They would have decent working conditions, including unemployment insurance
When community members wanted solar power but couldn't afford it, they banded together. When the first few residents of this village in the Ngong hills installed solar panels, nearly a decade ago, the only aim was to power their own homes, as their town had no connection to the national power grid. But today the community, south of Nairobi in the Rift Valley, is buzzing with solar and wind energy, which powers everything from the dispensary and church to shops, homes and even a rescue centre for girls fleeing child marriage and the threat of female genital mutilation. Residents say they banded together to buy the shared energy system themselves, recognising that the substantial upfront cost would create benefits for years to come. Those now include everything from vaccines that can now be kept cold at the dispensary to solar-powered pumping of water. In 2009, some residents of Olosho-Oibor, impressed with a first couple of private solar panels installed in the community, decided they wanted panels of their own - but many people could not afford them. So a group of community members began contributing cash - 10 dollars a month - until they had enough to buy a set of larger solar panels that could serve many nearby homes. They then approached the U.N. Industrial Development Organization for technical help in installing their system. Today the 125-member energy cooperative has raised $4,900 for panels - installed on poles around the community and on rooftops - and installed two small wind turbines as well. The community also has a 10-kilowatt diesel generator as a backup in periods when both sunshine and wind fall short, but that is used only occasionally
Ethiopia is the 5th largest investor in renewable energy at USD 100 million, according to the Renewable, Global Status Report, according to Capital. South Africa leads in renewable energy investment followed by Morocco, the second largest renewable energy investor at USD two billion. Kenya comes to third with investments worth USD 357 million and Uganda at USD 134 million is fourth. Ethiopia has over half a million solar lighting systems and over four million installed clean cooking stoves, making the country among the top five in Africa when it comes to using these technologies, according to the report. Many African countries have increased their policy commitments in the power sector during 2015 and that has continued with all renewable power generating technologies being deployed across the continent. The report further states that the largest markets for off-grid solar products has been Sub-Saharan Africa with 1.37 million units sold in the region followed by South East Asia with 1.28 million units sold. When it comes to global trends, data shows investment in renewable energy has increased to record highs in spite of plunging fossil fuel prices, the strength of the US dollar, which reduced the dollar value of non-dollar investments, and the continued weakness of the European economy. For the sixth consecutive year, renewable energy outpaced fossil fuels for net investment in power capacity additions. Estimates so far indicate that ‘green energy’ has created 8.1 million direct and indirect jobs. The report shows that solar and bio-fuels provided the largest numbers of renewable energy jobs. Large-scale hydropower accounted for an additional 1.3 million direct jobs.
The launch of the Kenyan wind energy scheme, the Lake Turkana Wind Power project, is drawing close to producing power this year. The wind energy project should be fully connected to the national electricity grid and producing power by the end of June this year. Most of the 365 wind turbines have been erected and the last batch of 30 is due to arrive in the port city of Mombasa early in February. Denmark’s Vestas Wind Systems is supplying the turbines for this project. The project has 299 turbines standing and ready. Of those, 120 turbines fully connected to the substation and therefore ready to deliver 110MW of power. The project expects all the turbines to be erected, 365 (of them) by mid-March, and by mid-May latest, all of them will be fully connected to the substation, in readiness for power delivery. In October 2016, the developers of the Lake Turkana wind power project declared to have installed 155 of the 365 turbines over a period of six months. It is reported that at present Kenya Electricity Generating Company is the country's sole wind power producer; however, its capacity is just 25.5MW. The Lake Turkana project is set to boost the country's capacity as it will provide 310MW in total, adding to Kenya’s total current power generation capacity of about 2,341MW. 428 km, 400-kilovolt powerline running from Loiyangalani in northern Kenya to Suswa in the centre of the country, which will link Lake Turkana Power to the national grid, should finally be ready by the end of June. Hopefully in the middle of this year the project should start delivering the cheap power. The power produced will be bought at a fixed price of $0.084/kWh by Kenya Power over a 20-year period in accordance with the power purchase agreement (PPA).
In Burundi, a 7.5MW solar field power project is set to begin soon in Mubuga, Gitega province and is expected to add 15% to the East African country’s generation capacity. Multinational renewable energy company, Gigawatt Global, announced that preparations for work to begin on the $14 million solar field commenced on Wednesday. According to a company statement, the ceremony was attended by government officials, international investors and the diplomatic community. Empowering economic and social development is at the heart of our green energy business. This high impact development investment supported by leading international financial institutions signals that Burundi is open for development and business. According to the company, the development is set to be the largest private international investment in the power sector in Burundi in nearly 30 years, with the power to be sold to the national power supplier, REGIDESO, over a period of 25 years.
Government has taken note of arrangements made by the Central Electricity Board (CEB), under its Small Scale Distributed Generation Scheme (SSDG), for the implementation of a Green Energy Scheme for Cooperatives as announced in Budget Speech 2016-2017. The objective of the Scheme is to allow cooperative societies to produce electricity from solar photovoltaic systems. Under the Scheme, cooperative federations and societies would be entitled to install solar PV not exceeding 5 kilowatt peak, and benefit from a one-off grant of Rs10, 000 per kilowatt up to a maximum of Rs50, 000. Any excess of electricity produced by a cooperative federation or a society would be credited to its energy account at the CEB under a net metering system. The Green Energy Scheme, under the SSDG, shall enable cooperatives to interconnect their renewable energy installations into the grid at zero cost for back up service and energy storage. Cooperative societies will benefit from the energy storage capacity and will not have to make investment in costly battery energy storage system. They will be able to generate their electricity during the day, especially from the solar PV source, and store it into the grid for future uses free of charge from the CEB. They will also reduce their monthly payment for electricity and use the savings for the investment made in the acquisition of the renewable energy system.
The power sector is set to see an increase in use of combined heat and power (CHP). According to a report from GlobalData, the market for CHP’s installed capacity should increase to around 971.9 GW by 2025. The company’s report said that the increasing global demand for electrical power and the simultaneous rise in environmental concerns and legislation are major drivers of the CHP market, along with increasing government incentives and policies to promote it. CHP plants are attractive because they recover heat that is normally wasted in conventional power generation methods, which together have an efficiency of around 45%. CHP systems, however, can be up to 90% efficient, and are used in industrial, institutional, and large commercial applications. Utilities worldwide offer favorable policies, fiscal incentives, and related programs such as State Program Funding to encourage CHP. According to the report, Asia-Pacific had the largest regional share in 2015, with 45.9% of global CHP installed capacity, attributable to countries such as China, India, and Japan. The share is expected to reach 48.5% of global installed capacity by 2025.
Africa is very much in the firing line when it comes to climate change so the recently adopted Paris Agreement – where developed and developing countries alike are required to limit their carbon emissions to keep the global temperature increase to below two degrees celsius – is positive news, although the devil is still in the detail. The continent’s vast untapped potential when it comes to renewable energy is a hugely significant resource that could bring clean power cost-effectively to many of the estimated 585 million people that the International Energy Agency (IEA) believes are currently living without access to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa. Energy access improves living standards, especially for women, and also creates income opportunities boosting economic growth. Even though the national grid is expanding in many countries within Africa, many people are still ‘beyond the grid’ and so not in reach or can’t afford to connect. Off-grid solutions are therefore crucial in meeting people’s energy needs, particularly electricity. One of the major off-grid options from renewable resources is through solar. There’s an enormous potential market because of the amount of money that people spend on fuels like kerosene – which is dirty, smoky and dangerous - for light and heat. In 2014, according to the IEA, the off-grid population in sub-Saharan Africa spent $14 billion on lighting alone. In addition, over the last 10 years we have seen a remarkable drop in the cost of renewable energy technologies. Solar photo voltaic (PV) is a sixth of the cost of what it was in 2007, battery costs have more than halved and huge improvements in energy efficiency technologies, such as LED bulbs, are allowing that power to go much further. In recent years, East Africa has emerged as a hotbed of creative solutions to meeting people’s energy needs where the nexus between clean energy and mobile-based technology is helping to transform whole communities, including in very rural areas.
Kenya plans to launch a $150 million project this year to bring solar electricity to markets, schools, shops and homes in poor, off-grid areas without existing power access. The effort, expected to receive World Bank funding in March, would bring mini-grid solar plants to areas of 14 counties categorised by Kenya’s government as marginalised, according to World Bank documents. Such off-grid systems are the cleanest and most cost-effective way to bring electrical power to poor areas, particularly those sparsely populated. Solar photovoltaics and mini-grids are the most effective way of supplying power to settlements with 300 to 400 inhabitants, and Kenya is one of the best prepared countries in Africa in providing such solutions. The country has more than 400 registered companies that can fulfil solar energy contracts, and more than 300 technicians trained and approved by the government to support the systems. Under the new project, solar mini-grids would be used to supply market centers, community facilities, and some households, according to planning documents. In more isolated areas, households would be equipped with home solar systems. New solar power capacity also would be used to pump water to supply homes and fields. Evidence suggests that PV (photovoltaic) powered water pumping significantly reduces the cost of water extraction through lower operational and maintenance costs. As part of the planned project, schools would get new solar-powered borehole wells while some communities would be equipped with water systems powered by solar pumps. Existing diesel-powered pumping systems would be retrofitted with hybrid solar systems, according to planning documents. The plan also provides for technical assistance and training to help make the scheme more sustainable.
Kakira Sugar Limited, a local sugar producer, has started commercial production of ethanol at a $36.6 million (Shs133b) distillery. The distillery, which will be producing 20 million litres of fuel grade anhydrous ethanol (Bio-Fuel), started production in November. The plant, which was installed by the India-based Praj Industries, will be distilling the product from the 74,000 metric tonnes of molasses that the sugar mill produces annually. Until the opening of the plant, the molasses had been going to local distillers of the local potent gins, waragi. If parliament passes the Biofuels Bill, which Energy and Mineral Development Minister tabled before the house early in December 2016 in line with the provisions of the Renewable Energy Policy for Uganda of 2007, it will provide for the blending of biofuels with fossil fuels (Petroleum Fuel) in regulated proportions. The Bill will allow for the blending of between 5 and 15 per cent of ethanol to fuel. It is, however, important to note that some countries such as India allow blending of up to 20 per cent of biofuels with fossil fuels, while in others for instance Brazil, some vehicles run on Ethanol alone. Kakira will not be selling the ethanol on the direct market. It will be selling to firms that are currently engaged in the distribution of petroleum products, which are expecting to carry out the blending before selling the same to motorists. Blending will come with immense economic benefits for Uganda as it is likely to reduce by close to a fifth, what it has been spending on fuel imports. According to Trading Economies, Uganda's imports had risen up to $456.6 million (Shs1.6 trillion) as of September 2016 out of which 24 per cent or $109.584 million (Shs391.2b) went towards the importation of fuel. It may not come with direct benefits to the individual motorist, but it does to the country. You get to save at least $20million (Shs72b) in foreign exchange, which would have gone towards the importation of fuel. Mr Madhvani argues that the country is also bound to reap environmental benefits.
ENGIE and the National Renewable Energies Agency (ANER) in Senegal have signed a partnership agreement aimed at accelerating the development of renewable energy projects in the country. The first part of this agreement involves the development of solar energy for individuals in multi-occupancy or individual housing. The aim is to study the initial deployment of these solutions to 11,000 households in the city of Dakar and its suburbs. The main focus will be on PV solar panels for the production of electricity and solar water-heaters for the production of hot water. Together, ANER and ENGIE will look into financing solutions for this equipment to facilitate their deployment to clients. ENGIE also commits to market energy performance contracts (EPC) to industrial operators and the tertiary sector in large urban communities in Senegal. The goal is to reduce sites’ energy consumption and help to balance the Senegalese electrical system. In Senegal, ENGIE will adapt the concept of EPC that it has used in all its industrial client and large tertiary markets around the world for many years. The final part of this agreement involves ENGIE’s participation in an industrial cluster to promote renewable energies, particularly by professional training actions and strengthening the local industrial network. ENGIE is aiming to use its technical experience and financial capacity to support Senegal’s energy policy, in close partnership with local stakeholders. The agreement signed reflects the desire to be a major stakeholder in renewable energies and services in Africa and to solve the huge energy supply problems found on the continent. In Senegal, ENGIE has been selected for the Dakar TER project in partnership with Thales for the design and production of infrastructures and systems, with a contract amounting to 225 million euros. The group is also involved in the Senergy project, a 30-MW photovoltaic power station in the town of Santiou Mekhé, scheduled for commissioning in 2017.
Firms that provide solar kits and modern cooking stoves — such as Rubagabaga Run of River Hydropower Project in Rwanda, SimGas Kenya Ltd, Eco-Charcoal Ltd and Uganda’s Eco Group Ltd — are bypassing traditional financial intermediaries and turning to online crowdfunders. Crowdfunding involves the use of Internet and mobile phone technologies to tap donations on platforms whose benefactors expect no financial return. In some cases, funders demand to exclusively sell the products from which they earn a margin. Eco-Charcoal, which makes briquettes, is raising funds through the mobile phone platform M-Changa, to boost output at Kasigau, between Tsavo East and West National Parks in Kenya’s Coastal region. The firm, formerly known as Kasigau Tree Farm project, said it had raised more than $4,700 of the $15,000 target by the end of 2016. Britain’s Department for International Development will match Eco’s capital up to $30,000, from its $1 million crowd power programme. Eco-Charcoal’s director said the firm plans to scale up output from 500 kilogrammes per month to 1,500 tonnes of briquettes from pruned tree branches by 2020, while conserving the ecosystem and mitigating climate change. The firm anticipates increasing direct and indirect employment, especially for women in Kasigau area, and creating a tree farm business model in Kenya and East Africa. Eco-Charcoal will use the money raised to buy equipment and machinery, conduct research and marketing, raise awareness and run capacity building workshops on climate change for the local population. Rising demand for energy due to population growth and urbanisation has created the need for charcoal and biomass briquettes as viable cost-effective energy substitutes. SimGas Kenya plans to use the funds to be raised via the Lend-a-hand crowdfunding platform to give out loans to 170 farmers to buy biogas systems. This will also give farmers access to organic fertiliser, which can be used on their land or sold to other farmers. The firm's mission is to empower people by offering them the tools to improve their lives and income.
Using waste from vegetable and flower production, biogas is providing energy to Kenya's electricity network. A commercial farm in Kenya has become Africa's first electricity producer powered by biogas to sell surplus electricity to the national grid, cutting the carbon emissions associated with oil-powered generation. The Gorge Farm Energy Park in Naivasha produces 2 megawatts (MW) of electricity - more than enough to cultivate its 706 hectares (1,740 acres) of vegetables and flowers, and with sufficient surplus to meet the power needs of 5,000-6,000 rural homes. The new plant generates not only electricity, but also heat for the farm's greenhouses, with fertiliser as a by-product. Gorge Farm, approximately 76km (50 miles) northwest of Kenya's capital, Nairobi, is owned by the Vegpro Group, a leading East African exporter of fresh vegetables and its second largest exporter of roses. Biojoule Kenya, the independent power producer that operates the Gorge Farm plant, signed an agreement to sell electricity to Kenya Power & Lighting Company (KPLC) - the country's sole power distributor - in 2016. Biojoule Kenya sells the power to Gorge Farm and to KPLC for $0.10 per kilowatt hour (kWh). Diesel-generated power, by contrast, costs $0.38 per kWh to produce. The Gorge Farm plant is physical proof that locally produced feedstock can be used to generate clean and cost-effective power for all Kenyans. The plant produces biogas through anaerobic digestion, a process in which crop residue from the farm is digested by micro-organisms. The biogas produced is burned in two engines, producing both electricity and heat in a process called cogeneration.
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