Access to cheap and reliable energy will help Africa’s developing countries achieve social and economic prosperity, and on a continent that enjoys an average of 325 days of bright sunlight annually, it’s no surprise that Africa is seeing the start of a solar revolution and a new era of cleaner energy production.
Governments and investors are working together to improve Africa’s power-generating capacity by addressing the high costs associated with implementing solar projects and to deliver a power supply that is capable of supporting growing populations, industrialisation and development. Many African governments are working closely with renewable energy providers to devise smart business models designed to power more rural homes and businesses.
Below, we highlight some of Africa’s noteworthy solar projects:
- Blue Power Energy, Ghana
Touted as possibly one of the continent’s largest solar power farms once completed, Blue Power Energy is due to open in March 2019 and aims to provide for Ghana and sub-Saharan Africa’s economic growth with power to more than 60% of Ghana’s land area. This solar farm is the first utility-scale solar energy project in northern Ghana.
- Solar Capital, De Aar, South Africa
If you’ve ever driven through the Karoo you will know there is an abundance of sunshine, so it’s no surprise that De Aar is home to the biggest solar energy farm in the southern hemisphere. With more than 700 000 solar panels, Solar Capital has an installed capacity of 175MW.
- Noor Complex Solar Plant, Morocco
Located on the edge of the Sahara Desert, the Noor Complex Solar Plant is one of the biggest solar farms in the world, covering an area of roughly 1.4 million square metres (approximately the same size as Paris!). The first phase of the project was switched on in 2016 and at that stage powered 650 000 homes and reduced the country’s carbon emissions by thousands of tonnes a year. The final phase should be complete by the end of 2018 and is expected to provide power to over 1 million people.
The fast-growing population and economic growth across the continent brings with it an accelerating demand for electricity, and in addition to these major players a myriad of solar startups are helping African governments meet the exploding demand. If you consider that all 48 countries in sub-Saharan Africa generate roughly as much electricity as the tiny country of Spain, this is a largely untapped market with huge potential not only for improving people’s lives but also for significant investment in the continent.
In South Africa, the demand for solar is increasing not only in the residential market from consumers who can no longer afford the electricity price increases but also within the commercial space. It makes sense that Fedgroup Impact Farming has chosen to invest in solar farming, offering the opportunity to investors to purchase one or several solar panels on large scale commercial installations. Up to 2,000 panels are installed on the roofs of shopping centres or industrial units, producing 70% of the required energy for the building. The electricity generated is sold to the landlords for up to 10% less than that charged by the local energy provider. The income generated is then split down between the renewable energy partner Emergent and the investors.
The combination of ambitious off-grid and utility-scale solar projects could very well see Africa establishing itself as a major global renewable energy market.