Heading to 2030: the future of Africa’s renewables has yet to be written
Investments in Africa’s renewable energy infrastructure are proving incredibly important since they sustain market growth while granting access to electricity - especially from renewable sources - as a fundamental element in bolstering stuttering yet turbulent economic development.
Still, Africa remains a vast continent with vaster contradictions, where a shaky regulatory system and political instability are factors discouraging private investment. Availability of financial and material resources is not an issue though, but rather, it’s the lack of clear and favorable regulatory frameworks and policies preventing foreign investment from overcoming Africa’s long-standing barriers to development.
This is the context emerging from our long experience in Africa.
“We’re Africa’s top privately-owned renewable energy operator. This is something we can definitely feel proud about but still, it’s a drop in the bucket if we consider the sheer size of Africa’s untapped potential and the huge amount of energy it needs.”.
- Antonio Cammisecra, CEO of Enel Green Power
South Africa, Zambia, and Morocco have all made significant progress as their growth sustained EGP’s global record in renewable capacity.
Although there’s still a long way to fully unleash Africa’s renewable potential, an ambitious target is set in installing somewhere between 118 and 170 GW-worth of additional green power infrastructure throughout the continent by 2030 - a truly challenging endeavor.
South Africa is driving the energy revolution
A testimony to EGP’s strong commitment towards Africa’s energy infrastructure development comes from South Africa, which saw a flurry of ambitious projects get underway over the past year. This is where one of the major contributions to EGP's record growth in renewable capacity was achieved, credit to over 520 MW-worth of active solar and wind power plants in the country.
“This result is testimony to the company’s commitment to building a sustainable future. Ever since 2011, when EGP first entered South Africa’s energy market, we’ve offered a decisive contribution to the local grid by generating roughly 520 MW from our active solar parks and wind farms, while we aim to further increase our contribution in the near future”.
- William Price, Country Manager EGP RSA.
By the end of 2019, EGP started construction on the Karusa and Soetwater wind farms, delivering 140 MW-worth of installed capacity each.
Both facilities – located in South Africa’s Karoo Hoogland district in the Northern Cape Province – call for the adoption of cutting-edge tools and procedures to remotely monitor and support all on-site activities and the commissioning of facilities, including usage of digital tools to perform on-the-spot quality checks and smart monitoring of wind turbine components.
During construction works, EGP always pledged to rely on a local workforce, promoting the social, economic and entrepreneurial development of local communities. Both wind farms are slated for completion by the end of 2021, with an overall investment tallied at over 200 million euros.
“Enel Green Power’s commitment in South Africa is in line with the Group’s 2020-2022 Strategic Plan, aiming to go beyond a yearly average of 4.7 GW in newly-built capacity within the Plan’s duration. This way, we’ll be able to add a further 14.1 GW of new renewable capacity until we reach the 60 GW target by 2022, sensibly reducing the amount of CO₂ released in the atmosphere”.
- William Price, Country Manager EGP RSA.
In 2015, EGP was awarded the complete lot of five projects in Round 4 of South Africa’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REI4P), resulting in construction works started in 2019 on three major new wind farms, in addition to our Karusa and Soetwater facilities – Nxuba (generating its first KWh on December 16, 2019), Oyster Bay, located in the Eastern Cape, and Garob, located in the Northern Cape, all featuring 140 MW of installed capacity each.
EGP’s Southafrican renewable portfolio also features five solar parks and two further wind farms. Namely, Upington (10 MW) and Adams (82,5 MW) in Northern Cape, Pulida (82.5 MW) in Free State Province, Tom Burke (66 MW) in Limpopo, and Paleishuewel (82,5 MW) in Western Cape Province, together with Eastern Cape’s Nojoli (88 MW), and Gibson Bay (111 MW) wind farms.
A European program to boost Africa’s energy revolution
Over the years, our ongoing commitment to developing Africa’s renewable energy infrastructure has been based on two main routes, one being the construction of new power plants and the other, the creation of shared value.
“Over the coming years, we’re aiming to foster the development of initiatives solving Africa’s chronic issues with access to electricity and lack of suitable infrastructure. This has led us to launch renewAfrica, an EGP-sanctioned initiative to guide Africa in its energy transition through a collaborative European program for the development of renewables”.
- Antonio Cammisecra, CEO of Enel Green Power.
EGP sponsors the renewAfrica initiative as a veritable plug-and-play contractual framework, creating a favorable environment for investments while stimulating the development of long-term renewable energy projects. This is achieved by providing regulatory and legislative support, encouraging capacity-building and knowledge-transfer policies, while offering financing and de-risking tools to sustain investments.
The Brussels meeting of the renew4Africa Initiative was attended by representatives from the European Commission, the renewable energy industry, international financial institutions, academia, and sector think-tanks. With such an audience, we’ve started to outline the framework of a carefully, unanimously and painstakingly crafted program that represents a golden opportunity to foster the development of all countries involved and kickstart once and for all Africa's energy transition.