Ethiopia and Renewable Energy: A Sustainable Choice
The future of Ethiopia depends on the sun that lights its highlands, the wind that blows through its forests and the force of its rivers. The country is rich in sources of renewable energy. If taken advantage of, they can help build a sustainable tomorrow.
Aware of the country’s potential, the Addis Ababa government launched an ambitious plan in 2016 to speed up the energy transition and support the construction of plants that use the country’s abundant renewable sources.
The Growth and Transformation Plan 2 involves the construction of 13.7 GW of new renewable capacity from sources other than hydroelectric in the coming years, in order to diversify the Ethiopian energy generation mix.
So Addis Ababa turned its attention to the sun. Through Scaling Solar, a program sponsored by the World Bank that provides financial assistance to emerging countries for solar energy, it launched its first public tenders for the construction of new photovoltaic plants.
Ethiopia is the fourth country, after Madagascar, Zambia and Senegal, to opt for Scaling Solar. With the program, it aims to build 500 MW of solar energy, enough power to eliminate its energy deficit.
Today, 60 million Ethiopians still don’t have direct access to electricity.
“Access to clean energy is the key to the development of Africa. For a secure and sustainable energy future, renewable sources are the answer. The cost competitiveness, the availability of resources and the fast time to market of green technologies can contribute to the spread of energy sustainable in Africa.”
– Antonio Cammisecra, CEO of EGP and President of RES4MED&Africa
Ethiopia Out of the Dark
In 2017 Enel Green Power presented a bid for the construction of the Metehara photovoltaic plant, in the region of Oromia, about 200 km from Addis Ababa.
Once completed, the Metehara solar plant will have an installed power of 100 MW and will generate about 280 GWh a year, avoiding roughly 296,000 tons of CO2 emissions.
The Danakil Depression in Ethiopia is the lowest point in Africa. It's an inhospitable but extraordinarily beautiful area, characterized by sulphur lakes, salt mines and extremely high temperatures.
The plant will see an investment of 120 million US dollars from the consortium led by EGP. It is supported by a 20-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with the public energy provider, Ethiopian Electric Power (EEP), which will distribute the energy produced by the plant to the local grid.
Also through Scaling Solar, EGP is waiting for tenders for two more solar projects. In agreement with the local government, it’s also exploring the potential for hydropower and geothermal plants.
The current Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, in office since May 2018, has carried on the green commitment of his predecessors. Because of this, and a stable regulatory framework based on tenders and PPAs, Ethiopia has the potential to speed up its journey toward sustainable development and overcome the many contradictions still present.