ALL TOPICS. ALL SIDES. ONE PLACE.

The Latest

THE LATEST

THE LATEST THINKING

THE LATEST THINKING

The opinions of THE LATEST’s guest contributors are their own.

Africa's Emerging Renewable Energy Sector

Pam Sornson

Posted on January 11, 2019 14:17

2 users

Ironically, it may be Africa's vast undeveloped expanse that offers it its greatest opportunity for future growth.

Africa at night

Although it appears that Africa is decades behind the rest of the world in terms of economic and social development, the advent of renewable energy technologies combined with the continent's untapped natural resources may accelerate its entrance into the global commercial community, not just as a consumer, but in many ways, as its leader.

No Need for Retrofit


Unlike other global nations and regions that are already heavily invested in using fossil fuels to power their industrial might, most of Africa's countries haven't yet adopted (at least in full) the use of fossil fuels to underscore their economies. That gap has caused most African citizens, regardless of their country of origin, to struggle with finding the energy needed to power their businesses. The absence of energy has stunted the continent's growth and left millions of people in the dark for decades.

The power gap, however, also offers a unique benefit to Africa's growing economies: because there is no established fossil-fueled infrastructure, there is also no need to remove or retrofit it in anticipation of cleaner energy derived from renewable resources.

No Decommissioning Costs


In most cases, just the cost of decommissioning a fossil-fuel production system is sufficiently prohibitive to prevent its occurrence. In fossil-fuel-reliant systems, shutting down an existing refinery and its attendant wells and pipelines can cost millions of dollars. That decommissioning cost does not also include the economic impact on the businesses and communities that rely on that energy for sustenance.

No Markets to Disrupt


Also not a disposal problem for Africa's emerging renewable energy industry is an existing fossil fuel-based market. In developed areas, fossil fuel providers have had an intractable clutch on energy production and distribution for (sometimes) centuries. Most are unwilling to give up that ultra-lucrative business even if doing so contributes to saving the imperiled environment. In Africa, while there are small corners of petroleum-based industrial sectors, the vast majority of the continent remains free of this constraint.

No Barriers to Opportunities


Not insignificantly, the will to fully embrace renewable resources also adds to Africa's promise as a clean energy leader. One benefit of fossil-fueled energy is its reliability and petroleum industry nay-sayers have railed against solar and wind resources (as examples) as unreliable and therefore not worthy of investment.

In Africa, however, the abundance of solar radiance, wind, and a plethora of other natural and renewable resources provide ample opportunities for both sufficient and reliable energy sources. Wind and solar resources are actually highly predictable; when used in combinations that generate power at varied times, the capacity for steady and reliable power can match that of petroleum-based fuel sources.

The upshot of all this is that Africa is poised to both embrace renewable energies as its foundational power resource, and its future investments in that sector will not be hindered by having to remove or retrofit previous systems of energy generation. I can't wait to see it happen.

Pam Sornson

Posted on January 11, 2019 14:17

Comments

comments powered by Disqus
Source: NYT
13

The Paris climate accord's goals won't succeed in America without the aid of large corporations and substantial government...

THE LATEST THINKING

Video Site Tour

The Latest
The Latest

Subscribe to THE LATEST Newsletter.

The Latest
The Latest

Share this TLT through...

The Latest