Africa and the middle east have vast untapped renewable energy potential particularly with regard to solar power. Renewable energy projects from large to small scale are popping up across the region. An example of small scale projects can be found in the sparsely populated island of El Hierro in the Canary Islands. This island has employed water and wind power to become the world’s first energy self-sufficient island. There are a number of large scale projects in the Middle East and Africa.
Only around a third of Africa’s population has access to energy. Across Africa renewable energy projects, whether utilities-level or small and widely distributed can bring power and electricity to areas that are currently off the grid. This would replace emissions intensive diesel power and help to electrify the continent.
From North Africa to South Africa the continent has the potential to become a renewable energy superpower. The potential for renewable energy development extends beyond North Africa and into the Middle East. In 2014 the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies released a roadmap for the development of renewable energy in North Africa and the Middle East. This document argues that renewable energy, particularly solar power, is an ideal fit for the region.
The nation of South Africa alone already has two large scale solar energy projects. The Upington (100 MW) and Sere (100 MW) renewable energy projects are part of South Africa’s Power Sector Integrated Resource Plan. By 2030 the country aims to meet 42 percent of its national demand for power using renewable energy sources.
MENA region nations such as the UAE, Jordan, Morocco and Egypt, have also made major progress in the development of renewable energy infrastructure.
Here are two examples of nations (one in Africa and one in the Middle East) that can generate 100 percent of their electrical power from renewable sources.
According to a technical research paper, Nigeria can get all of its power supply from renewable energy. Nigeria currently has several power plants under construction and it is very well positioned to accomodate more.
Another research paper posits that Turkey is capable of obtaining all of its electricity needs from renewable energy by 2020. In 1970, renewables met about 35 percent of demand, however increasing power demand meant that by 2010 that number fell to 10 percent. The research paper indicates that current and future electricity demand could easily be met with renewable energies.
African Renewable Energy Alliance (AREA)
African Renewable Energy Fund (AREF)
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