Africa set to unleash Solar Power potential: Report

Africa has enormous potential for photovoltaics, which has barely been utilized up until now. But a pioneering vision is spreading across the continent, with many countries paving the way for ambitious photovoltaic projects.

This is the conclusion of the Intersolar Solarize Africa Market Report 2020, prepared by the Becquerel Institute and the German Solar Association (BSW-Solar) with assistance from Intersolar Europe, the world’s leading exhibition for the solar industry.

The report analyzes the market conditions in 16 African countries and presents multiple potential scenarios for the future.

It was first presented to the public at the Global Solar Council Virtual Forum, which took place on October 27-28 and is now available for free download.

Electrification and renewable energies are right at the top of the political agenda in many African countries. And yet, the actual rates of installation in the past year remained low.

With around 6.6 gigawatts (GW), the continent is only home to about one percent of the photovoltaic capacity established worldwide as of the end of 2019.

While photovoltaic technology continues to rise globally, almost no new solar systems are being set up in the earth’s brightest regions.

The Intersolar Solarize Africa Market Report 2020 takes a closer look. It presents an analysis of the market in select African countries, for the first time, including Senegal, Mali, Uganda, Madagascar, Kenya and Tunisia.

The report investigates the various phases of the photovoltaics markets for 16 African countries and their individual regulatory conditions and potential for photovoltaic installations.

It also issues a clear call to utilize the potential that already exists.

Closer observation shows that plenty is happening on the continent.

Many countries have projects in the pipeline, some on a significant scale, and the underlying political conditions are improving all the time.

For instance, Algeria is planning to install photovoltaic systems with a combined capacity of 4 GW by 2024, while the end of 2019 marked the completion of Egypt’s Benban Solar Park.

With a total installed capacity of 1.5 GW and six million photovoltaic panels, Benban is the largest solar park in Africa and the biggest in the world. And Egypt is planning to install another 3.5 GW of solar energy capacity by 2027.

Kenya had plans to set up commercial photovoltaic installations with a total capacity of 500 megawatts (MW) as of 2019, and contracts were recently finalized to build a solar park of the same size in Mali.

“Africa is on the threshold of a major transformation, which can best be described as a kind of wave that keeps swelling. We are excited to see what will come next,” says David Wedepohl, CEO of the German Solar Association (BSW-Solar).

The report presents four potential scenarios for the future of photovoltaics in Africa.

The “policy-driven” and “business as usual” scenarios are based on the various countries’ current expansion goals and assume the cumulative photovoltaic capacity of approximately 70 GW by 2030.

More probable is the “solarize Africa accelerated” scenario, which presumes that photovoltaics in Africa will develop broadly in the same way as in other parts of the world, giving 170 GW of installed capacity by 2030.

The central assumption of the fourth scenario — the “solarize Africa paradigm shift” that builds on the current atmosphere on the continent — is that the African markets are in some respects skipping over the fossil fuel age altogether.

It combines the installed photovoltaic capacity with the targets laid out in the Paris Agreement. With a cumulative total of 600 GW by 2030, this scenario envisions Africa as a critical region in the future global photovoltaic market.

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