Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
  Solar Energy News  




Subscribe to our free daily newsletters



SOLAR DAILY
Africa looks to solar for communities off the grid
By Jennifer O'Mahony in Dakar and Nicolas Delaunay in Nairobi
Dakar/Nairobi (AFP) Nov 20, 2016


Above the sacks of seeds and coal, three kerosene lamps gather dust in the tiny shed that Kenyan chicken farmer Bernard calls home.

He prefers to use solar energy to light up his evenings, listen to the radio or watch television, after abandoning a diesel generator he said was expensive to maintain and burned fuel too quickly.

"Solar panels are a good, cheap solution," he told AFP.

Across the continent, consumers are opting for their own off-grid solar solutions to power homes and small businesses, even as African governments unveil massive new solar projects seemingly every month to expand their grids.

According to International Energy Agency projections, almost one billion people in sub-Saharan Africa will gain access to the grid by 2040, but by that time 530 million will remain off-grid, almost comparable with the 600 million who cannot access power today.

Governments have ramped up their efforts: on Africa's Atlantic coast, Senegal last month inaugurated a massive 20 megawatt (MW) project that will deliver energy to 160,000 people, which President Macky Sall saluted as ushering in "a new, clean-energy era".

   But   Mouhamadou Makhtar Cisse, director-general of national utility 
Senelec, underlined upcoming problems in an interview with AFP.

"We actually have an excess of 100MW of power," he said. "But we have a distribution problem. We have been thinking in terms of roads and railways... but not about electricity highways."

With around 55 to 65 percent of homes receiving electricity, Senegal's grid strength is above average for sub-Saharan Africa, whereas in South Sudan and Liberia this hovers between one and two percent.

But even in Senegal, neighbouring Mauritania and Rwanda, which have all invested in large-scale solar projects as the cost of panels tumble, the twin challenges of limited grids and Africa's demographics remain.

- 'Space for innovation' -

"The grid and the off-grid are so far apart right now that it's creating a huge space for innovation," enthuses Andrew Herscowitz, coordinator for US President Barack Obama's Power Africa initiative.

Power Africa, which identifies governments and businesses requiring sustainable and affordable energy and offers funding and expertise in more than 15 countries, has taken a particular interest in solar.

Power Africa is pushing this renewable source so that people "don't have to wait for the grid to arrive to them, they can access a company today and have a solar panel put on their roof," Herscowitz told AFP.

Half of sub-Saharan Africa's power is generated in South Africa, while north Africa has built effective grid systems that largely serve their populations with a constant flow of energy.

But for the rest, off-grid systems and the technology needed to make them reachable to the sub-continent's poorest homes have reached a tipping point in the last five years, spurred by advances that have lowered costs.

Lighting homes with kerosene and candles remains expensive, dangerous and polluting, but in Kenya micro-solar firms have brought power to 30 percent of the off-grid population.

"A person can for the same amount of money they were spending to buy kerosene just for that little flicker of light... use that money to buy a small solar panel that can power safe lightbulbs," Herscowitz said.

Simon Bransfield-Garth, CEO of British "pay-as-you-go" solar panel firm Azuri, noted that the cost per kilowatt hour for electricity in the West was around 15 US cents, while kerosene was 53 times higher and candles 105 times higher on average for African consumers.

Azuri and rival M-Kopa offer a package of solar-powered lightbulbs, radio, and phone charging ports for as little as 50 US cents a day.

Solar-powered televisions are available for a little more and fridges are expected to follow.

The firms have made their mark in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Ghana, which also have the heaviest uptake of mobile money systems, allowing users to pay for these services automatically through cheap and easy-to-access bank accounts provided by telecoms firms.

In these markets, customers are often so sparsely distributed that even if they have the opportunity to connect to the grid, doing so is still often more expensive than solar packs.

- Sunshine continent -

Investment in the sun to feed Africa's grids is appreciable: by the end of 2014 output stood at 1,334 MW, more than ten times larger than in 2009 (127 MW), according to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

As consultancy firm KPMG put it in a recent report, solar power is "the most widely available source of renewable energy in Africa", and could "bring energy to virtually any location in Africa without the need for expensive large-scale grid level infrastructural developments."

The uptake of solar still remains extremely low compared to coal and biomass, accounting for less than five percent of overall grid power, but solar is getting cheaper and easier to install than ever.

Besides, most off-grid communities have no other option, as Africa Power's Herscowitz noted: "the amount of money needed to solve the energy deficit in Africa is hundreds of billions of dollars. No government has that money."


Comment on this article using your Disqus, Facebook, Google or Twitter login.


Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once


credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly


paypal only

.


Related Links
All About Solar Energy at SolarDaily.com






Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Previous Report
SOLAR DAILY
New Jersey's NEP Solar secures major funding agreement
Toronto, Canada (SPX) Nov 18, 2016
National Energy Partners ("NEP") and Forum Equity Partners ("Forum") have announced that they had signed an agreement in which Forum will provide up to $15 million in growth financing for NEP, a leading developer of distributed Photovoltaic Solar Generation Systems for commercial and municipal customers. Under the agreement, Forum will provide development capital and construction equity fi ... read more


SOLAR DAILY
UNIST researchers turn waste gas into road-ready diesel fuel

NextCoal to produce bio-coal for export to Japan, bio-oil for domestic use

New biofuel cell with energy storage

Bioelectronics at the speed of life

SOLAR DAILY
Researchers question if banning of 'killer robots' actually will stop robots from killing

Crowd workers help robot keep conversation fresh

Scientists come up with light-driven motors to power nanorobots of the future

Artificial-intelligence system surfs web to improve its performance

SOLAR DAILY
Owl-inspired wing design reduces wind turbine noise by 10 decibels

DONG Energy sets wind energy sights on Taiwan

Interior set to rule on future of BLM's Renewable Energy Program

Microsoft Corp. taps deeper into wind power

SOLAR DAILY
A novel catalyst design opens possibility to hydrogen vehicle

Five things to know about VW's 'dieselgate' scandal

How much attention do drivers need to pay

VW reaches 3.0-liter diesel agreement with EPA: report

SOLAR DAILY
Glow-in-the-dark dye could fuel liquid-based batteries

First observations of tongue deformation of plasma

Battery cars a better choice for reducing emissions than fuel cells

Bottlebrush polymers make dielectric elastomers viable for use in devices

SOLAR DAILY
Breakthrough offers greater understanding of safe radioactive waste disposal

French power company EDF underestimating costs: study

Finnish client 'alarmed' by French nuclear industry overhaul

Time to tackle the UK's plutonium mountain

SOLAR DAILY
Climate: Four nations map course to carbon-free economies

Shifting focus leaves mixed bag for German utility RWE

Deeper carbon cuts needed to avoid climate tragedy: UN

New program makes energy-harvesting computers more reliable

SOLAR DAILY
Global boreal forests differ but not immune to climate change

Mangrove protection key to survival for Senegalese community

Morocco's oases fight back creeping desert sands

Database captures most extensive urban tree sizes, growth rates across United States




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News






The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement