CAPE TOWN, (CAJ News) – THE West Africa Clean Energy Corridor (WACEC) has been launched in Cape Town with the aim of accelerating the deployment of utility scale renewable energy into the region.The launch was part of the African Utility Week Conference currently underway in the South African city.
Renewable energy expert at the Economic Community of West African States Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREE), Jansénio Delgado, told delegates at least 52 percent of the population in the region had no access to electricity.“So we have a big challenge in the region in terms of energy and electricity access,” he said.According to Delgado the plan was to increase access to at least 88 percent of the population by 2030, but there were some challenges.
Delgado said the region had big potential especially for renewable energy and specifically hydro power.“The region has big potential in terms of renewable energy from hydro, solar, wind and biomass. These resources are geographically distributed which makes them complimentary.”He explained there is already a big pipeline of projects underway with Senegal taking the lead.Preliminary conclusions show the development of 10 GW electricity can still be injected into the grid by 2030.“So the utilities and electrical companies should adapt to renewable energy as a next phase of electricity generation.”He also foresees the cost of electricity levelling in future as the development of solar electricity generation technology becomes less costly.“But of course,” Delgado admits, “solar energy also has problems.”He referred to challenges which include intermittency and non-availability of solar energy at times.“So we need complimentary with other sources of renewable energy like hydro and that is the reason why we are at the same time also developing a hydro corridor for the region.”Senior operations advisor at the Millennium Challenge Corporation, Ellen Moran, said it was possible and referred to examples in California where there is already a 50/50 energy mix.
“But it has to be complimentary,” said Moran.According to Moran the challenge outside developed countries however, is problems with financially sound utilities.
“In many countries where utilities are in bad shape it is because the largest customer is the government and it usually does not pay utility bills regularly. So if governments are interested in growing the economy, they will have to do their bit.”
Henning Wuester, Director of Knowledge Policy and Finance at the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) welcomed the initiative and said they were happy to work with ECREE on this project.
The WACEC project is based on IRENA’S similar initiatives in South and Eastern Africa.“We want to stress that by creating these renewable energy corridors in ways that you can integrate it into the grid, you can so create regional markets.” He said renewable energy can be more effective in bigger settings and lessen dependence on local options.”Over 7000 decision makers from over 80 countries are attending the three day conference where the latest developments, challenges and opportunities in the power and water sectors will be under the spotlight.
Over 300 experts will over three days discuss innovative solutions to the continent’s energy and water challenges and the exciting opportunities for utilities and industry players.The conference ends Thursday. Spintelligent are organizing the African Utility Week Conference
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