Africa’s shift to net-zero
The climate crisis is an unavoidable reality. For every company, individual and government, changing the shape of this crisis has become, or should become a priority, writes John Lewis.
It needs to be central to every conversation, expansion plan, and strategy because remaining aligned with the status quo is not an option. Simply looking at the problems is not either. The only option is to look at solutions, at how the energy sector and organisations can come together to change the future.
Over the past two decades, there has been an incredible explosion of growth, innovation, and opportunity in Africa. This opportunity has been balanced by complexity.
Challenges unique to the continent have impacted delivery and scope, but these have only served to make the sector stronger and more resilient, with more innovative and transformative solutions. The value of this innovation and transformation lies in how they can be used to achieve global net-zero goals within the African landscape.
The world is looking at how to achieve global net zero by 2050. Africa is looking at real and tangible solutions that can be used to not only address the climate problem, but spur economies, strengthen communities and bolster environmental efforts.
African nations are spearheading these initiatives and playing a significant role in powering the shift to a decarbonised continent.
Electrifying with net-zero goals
The reality is that energy in Africa is still filled with possibilities. African governments, utilities and entrepreneurs are not only focusing on widespread electrification but doing so with clear net zero ambitions in place.
These are the countries that are looking at viable solutions to the energy trilemma – the triple-pronged problem of accessibility, affordability, and sustainability in power.
These initiatives, along with consistent decarbonisation efforts, are an example to the rest of the world. Egypt, South Africa, Kenya, Namibia, and Ghana are leading the way when it comes to solar technology adoption, and there are impressive examples worth mentioning.
One is the Ouarzazate Solar Power Station that ensures more than a third of Morocco’s electricity is renewable, and another is the South African Integrated Resource Plan that has set a goal for a 330% increase in renewables by 2030.
This climate commitment is sparking investor confidence in green energy on the continent. South Africa’s carbon tax progress, and upcoming green hydrogen initiatives in Namibia and the DRC are all catching the investor’s eye.
In addition, Africa’s immense renewable resource pool plus its falling technology costs have seen double-digit growth in the deployment of utility-scale and distributed photovoltaics and other renewables. The more Africa innovates, the closer the world gets to net zero.
However, the path to true net zero emissions is long. There is a rising demand for power that presents both opportunities and challenges for governments and utilities.
They need to create more sustainable solutions, but they need to balance this by growing demand for an energy infrastructure that can handle legacy loads.
The investment and implementation of large-scale hybrid projects, for example, is playing a role in bridging the gap between the demands of the present and the net zero requirements of the future in Africa, and these must be accessible in both remote and dense urban communities.
The excess of renewable resources on the continent also puts the continent in a unique position to overcome implementation hurdles, employ hybrid solutions and accelerate the shift to net zero by 2050.
The future is a landscape filled not just with climate concerns, but with opportunity. Solutions are emerging from the African market that cut emissions, offer a robust and reliable power supply, and that significantly cut carbon emissions.
To realise this value and potential, there is a need for energy-resilient partnerships that allow for the development of robust and relevant solutions that can serve not just the continent’s energy needs, but its future as well.
John Lewis is Managing Director at Aggreko Africa
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