INTRODUCTION ON RENEWABLES
Throughout Africa, expanded access to energy is essential for the reduction of poverty and promotion of economic growth. Today’s advanced information technologies, municipal services such as education and health care, and industrial and agricultural enterprises all require reliable and cost-effective energy access. Although still in its early stages on the continent, the application of renewable energy has great potential to create new markets, supply the energy necessary to support growth, and raise living standards through increased access to energy.
Renewable technologies are already being deployed in many parts of Africa due to the plentiful sources of solar, wind, geothermal, and hydroelectric energy. The continent receives abundant sunlight from the Sahara Desert to South Africa; winds are strong in many places, particularly in the desert regions of north and east Africa; the Great Rift Valley in east Africa is one of the most promising locations for geothermal energy in the world; and the great rivers that traverse much of the continent are fed by ample rainfall. Additionally, the flexibility of renewable energy systems offers great promise in Africa because of the limited reach of many national electricity grids and the high cost of transporting electricity long distances from large-scale power plants. Distributed generation using renewable energy systems offers the ability to meet rural electrification needs, and small-scale solutions such as solar cookers, solar powered lamps, and wind-powered pumps can have a significant impact on people’s lives by addressing particular local needs.
The African Energy Association strongly supports the use of renewable energy throughout Africa. It supports private investment and advocates for higher levels of investment in renewables by national governments and international donors in order to make use of Africa’s great potential to generate clean energy that will drive economic development, increase people’s well-being, and avoid the types of pollution – including greenhouse gas emissions – that are commonly associated with electricity generation from fossil fuels.