According to a new study compiled by the International Rivers, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is in the position to harness its renewable energy potential to power its electricity needs.
In the analysis Renewable Riches, researchers from the University of California's Energy and Resources Group modeled the DRC’s best wind and solar sites.
According to the report, the country’s wind and solar potential, measured at 85GW, could address the country’s chronic power shortages and would far surpass the output of the planned 4.8GW Inga 3 Dam on the Congo River. 60GW of that energy could be installed at less than $0.07 per kWh, which makes it competitive with conventional power options, says the report.
“The DRC is endowed with significant renewable energy potential,” said Dr. Ranjit Deshmukh, one of the study’s authors.
Dr Deshmukh added: “More studies are needed to operationalise our findings, but this shows the DRC has abundant power at its fingertips, some of which could be brought online before construction even begins on Inga 3.”
Renewable energy potential
The researchers focused on the sites that could readily feed into the national power grid, limiting their search to renewable potential located near existing and planned transmission lines.
Their analysis identified the sites that could be developed sustainably, excluding forested and important biodiversity areas, populated areas, and farmland.
“The solution to DRC’s energy crisis is right under our nose. Wind and solar are faster and easier to deploy than large hydropower, and this study shows they can be cheaper too,” said Jean-Marie Muanda of Actions pour les Droits, l'Environnement et la Vie (ADEV).
Emmanuel Musuyu of the Congolese group CORAP, added: “For too long, our government has put all its eggs in the basket of Inga 3 with nothing to show for it, and has neglected a wealth of wind and solar that can start meeting our needs now. That needs to change.”
Shift to South Africa
The study also analysed how South Africa could meet its future energy needs. It notes that the country has factored power imports from Inga 3 in its energy planning, but the researchers found that pursuing Inga 3 could be far more expensive for the country than harnessing wind and solar within the country.
Josh Klemm from the International Rivers said: “The study’s findings should give decision-makers in the DRC pause. South Africa can meet its own energy needs more cheaply without Inga 3.”
“Relying on South Africa to financially anchor the Inga 3 project could leave the DRC adrift,” Klemm noted.
It is reported that only 13.5% of the DRC citizens have access to electricity and this is hampering the country’s economic development. Read more...
“DRC and South Africa need reliable energy to power economic development and meet the needs of their citizens – and they have it. Wind and solar power are treasures hidden in plain sight,”said Rudo Sanyanga, International Rivers' Africa program director.
Download the full report here
Featured image: Stock