African Review November 2015

Page 44

S10 ATR Nov 2015 - Power Report 01_Layout 1 27/10/2015 08:04 Page 44



The prospects for wind power Why the wind power industry in Africa is expected to experience a huge boost in installed capacity over the next few years


hile wind power on the continent currently makes up only one per cent of total electricity, or 1 GW, there is an additional 10.5 GW in the pipeline, the study ‘Development of Wind Energy in Africa’ shows. Africa is faced with the challenge of generating more power to meet existing and future demand as more than 500mn people on the continent lack access to electricity, the study says, adding at least eight African nations are among the developing world’s most endowed in terms of wind energy potential. Noting that wind power is one of the world’s fastest-growing energy resources, the study said Somalia, Sudan, Libya, Mauritania, Egypt, Madagascar, Kenya and Chad have large onshore wind energy potential. Two interesting schemes came on line recently a 52 MW project recently in Ethiopia and the €633mn (US$723.4mn), 300 MW Lake Turkana Wind Power Project in Kenya. This feature will look at the issues, trends, challenges and stakeholders behind Africa’s wind power market. The prospects for wind power in Africa are looking pretty good. “Historically it has been Morocco, Egypt and South Africa which have led development but progressively other countries on the continent are opening up to wind power, “ commented Luis Nuche at Vaisala, a Finnish company specialising in wind measuring products and services. Potential places for wind power According to the Global Wind Report ‘ Annual Market Update’ 2014, Africa’s best locations for wind farms lie along its coasts and in the eastern highlands. “The offshore wind energy potential is best off the coast of Madagascar, Mozambique, Tanzania, Angola and South Africa”, notes the IEA’s ‘ Africa Energy Outlook’ 2014 report . In practice up until 2014, commercial scale wind power developments were concentrated in just six countries:


Tunisia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Egypt, Morocco and South Africa, which accounted for nearly 96 per cent or 3,909 MW out of an installed total capacity of 4,074 MW. See Table 1. Table 1 African Wind Market 2014 Country Algeria Cape Verde Egypt Eritrea Ethiopia Gambia Kenya Libya Mauritius Morocco Mozambique Namibia Nigeria Mauritania South Africa Tanzania Tunisia Total

Wind farms 1 5 9 1 3 1 4 1 1 13 1 1 1 2 18 1 3 66

Capacity (MW) 11 31 745 1 325 1 343 20 2 885 1 1 11 36 1,368 50 243 4,074

Sources: BBC,

By 2018, the African Development Bank expects 10.5GW of additional wind power as a number of countries introduce annual targets for renewable energy and regulations to accommodate private and independent power producers” By 2018, the African Development Bank (AfDB) expects 10.5GW of additional wind power as a number of countries introduce annual targets for renewable energy and regulations to accommodate private and independent power producers.

African Review of Business and Technology - November 2015

Drivers behind expansion The take-off in wind generation projects, ranging from a single turbine to a large wind farm owes much to the increasingly favourable political climate as governments across the continent recognise the urgent need to provide consistent reliable cheap power for households and businesses like cement, bottling plants, oil, gas and mines, mobile phone operators as well as computers and IT equipment that underpin economic development. A sharp drop in wind technology prices combined with increased investor interest in Africa from foreign investors and development banks has greatly increased the availability of finance. There is also the impetus from President Obama’s 2013 Power Africa project, which aims to add 30,000 MW of new and cleaner power generation by 2018 enough to connect 60 million homes and businesses. Of renewables, wind power is especially suited to cater for the rural population, 85 per cent of whom live without electricity. The case for off- grid Low population density with only five people per square kilometre outside towns and cities, makes grid expansion into rural areas prohibitively expensive and large- scale centralised power grids uneconomic. For example, in sparsely populated countries such as Mali, grid expansion can cost up US$19,000 per kilometre, reports the IEA. This is too costly for African consumers’ budgets and for governments to subsidize. To overcome the economic and practical difficulties Grant McDermott, a research scholar at the Norwegian School of Economics advocates ,“ a decentralised grid solution” for rural communities where renewables such as wind or solar can power water pumps, schools, ranches and telecommunications. ■ Nicholas Newman