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Wind power not utilised enough in Africa

2 July 2009 – African countries, aside from Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia, are not making the most of their vast wind potential, analysts say.   The three North African countries supply 95% of the 563MW of installed wind power capacity in Africa, mostly fuelled by demand from Europe, where countries are under pressure to cut CO2 levels.

The new minister of energy, Dipuo Peters said recently that she would like IPPs to add 400MW from wind to the national grid within the next three years.  According to energy consultancy, Nano Energy, this is far below the potential 60 000MW that South Africa could generate from wind.  Jason Shaffler, Nano Energy managing directors says:  “we have built our economy on coal, a fossil resource, and it will require a more serious carbon commitment and more ambitious targets to change that.”

According to another consultant, Sipha Ndawonde, “Egypt’s wind energy programme based on public-private partnerships and the government’s active renewable energy policy should serve as a blueprint of what can be done.”

"Loans with favourable interest payments provided by Spanish, Danish, and French organisations have assisted in developing the North African wind market … South Africa should look to investigate similar routes," he said.

Egypt has a target of 12% wind generation as part of its energy mix by 2020, meaning wind farms would add 7 200MW to the grid.

"The fact that the government is adopting regions and farms is a good point as you have a baseline for wind energy production," said Mohab Hallouda, a World Bank energy expert.

"(The state) can sustain operations should going to the private sector prove to have hurdles."

Egypt has further published the first in a series of planned tenders on a build-operate-own basis, which has attracted interest from 72 international investors so far.

Renewed interested in wind is also coming from East and West Africa where drought has raised doubts as to the reliability of hydro as the main source of electricity.  In Kenya, the Lake Turkana Wind Power will have an installed capacity of 300 MW by 2012.