At the ESI Africa office in Cape Town (almost the most southern place in Africa), we sometimes feel far removed from the rest of the continent.
That may be geographically true but luckily not as far as our network of readers, partners and valued clients are concerned – we are within reach via electronic devices and, of course, the many partnerships we form through industry events.
The ESI Africa journal has travelled far and wide during 2019, and you may have received a personal copy or met with me at one of the many events we attend. These strategic platforms include the annual Future Energy East Africa in Nairobi, the aef in Lisbon, Future Energy Nigeria in Lagos, and in Cape Town – known for its smart city aspirations – the Windaba forum hosted by SAWEA, the AMEU Convention, and African Utility Week & POWERGEN Africa conference.
I have noticed a spate of energy, power and oil industry-related events vying for the industry’s attention this year. A possible reason for this burgeoning number of events is the change in perception around doing business in Africa, now seen as one of the leading destinations for energy and power investment. A final frontier, so to speak.
However, this calls for the market to redefine funding vehicles and investment models to accommodate the unique projects within the five regions. One such trend is in ‘green finance’ (refer to page 62). According to Dr Anthony Nyong, the AfDB’s director for climate change and green growth, new financial instruments will increase Africa’s ability to access even limited amounts of local currency finance. Nyong rightly points out that this is an excellent way to manage risk, attract concessional funding from climate funds, and crowd in private sector finance.
This topic was also addressed during another event – albeit a virtual one – that gives attendees the luxury of tuning in from office or home and reducing their personal carbon footprint. The webinar titled Financing onsite power for the C&I market highlighted a gap (and business opportunity) where there is a lack of funding for green energy projects for the C&I sector.
A shortage of track record information is cited as one of the challenges. Another issue dampening growth is the lack of knowledge on how to access funding. I’d welcome your ideas on how to address these challenges during the year ahead. Read more on this topic on page 54 and listen to the webinar recording at www.esi-africa/webinars/.
In our focus for this edition, we take you on a journey to uncover progress and future developments in the generation market. Fortunately, renewed governmental backing, investor interest and confidence are fuelling expansion even as policy, technical, political and economic challenges persist.
One technology to investigate is the use of biogas for the generation of electricity; this is an established technology, widely implemented around the globe. Its application has the benefit of displacing fossil fuel-based energy with low carbon, renewable energy and also reducing GHG emissions. Read more on page 32 to find out what actions are needed to achieve the best results.
Another generation source that can benefit the continent lies in Africa’s untapped technical hydropower potential. Although competing with fossil fuels, hydropower is responsible for 86% of all non-fossil fuel energy use globally (see page 36).
In this section, we also cover part two of Safeguarding your solar PV modules (page 38) – a topic that is becoming ever more relevant as solar plants of all sizes come online. Not to be outdone, wind energy is also coming on stream, with projects making an impact in growing the economy (see page 42).
These widely different generation technologies would not be possible without the backing of government. Specific to South Africa is the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP2019), which was approved by Cabinet in October. As expected, comment has been varied, responses vehement and opinions divided – read more on page 26. I welcome receiving your views on the IRP2019 (use our social media platforms) as this is, after all, a living document.
Till the next edition.
What’s in store for the next edition?
It’s the first 2020 edition and time to showcase your expertise ahead of the African Utility Week & POWERGEN Africa conference and exhibition. In this issue we examine technologies driving off-grid and mini-grid development and research into alternative clean power sources and carbon reduction.