Namibia and Kenya Lead Africa’s clean energy agenda

Namibia and Kenya are leading the way in Africa’s transition to clean energy, according to a report by energy think tank Ember.

The report, which analyzed data from 78 countries representing 93% of global electricity demand, found that solar was the fastest-growing source of global electricity for the 18th year in a row, rising by 24% year-on-year and adding enough electricity to power all of South Africa.

Wind generation also saw an increase of 17% in 2022, enough to power almost all of the UK. Across the African continent, Namibia, Morocco, and Kenya are some of the countries leading the way, with twenty African nations already generating more than half of their electricity from renewables, with hydro playing a key role.

Namibia has quadrupled its solar power in just four years, from 6% of electricity in 2017 to 24% of electricity in 2021, making it the African country with the highest share of solar power.

Kenya is also making significant strides, recording 90% of its electricity from renewables in 2022, with wind power accounting for 14% of its electricity, up from just 0.6% in 2017, with the development of Africa’s largest wind project, backed by international financing.

However, the report highlighted that the African region as a whole has just 5% of its electricity from wind and solar, the second-lowest only to the Middle East. Less than 1% of the increase in global wind and solar generation in 2022 was in African countries.

The report emphasized citing lessons from other economies worldwide, like China’s ‘Whole-County Rooftop Solar’, which sees a systematic approach to deploying solar region-by-region across government buildings, schools, and hospitals.

Meanwhile, the report noted a major decline in global coal generation, as wind and solar energy increased by 1.1%, leading to an all-time high in global power sector emissions, which increased by 1.3% in 2022.

The report predicts that 2022 may be the ‘peak’ of electricity emissions and the final year of fossil power growth, with clean power meeting all demand growth in 2023. As a result, there would be a small fall in fossil generation (-0.3%) in 2023, with larger falls in subsequent years as wind and solar deployment accelerate.

“The stage is set for wind and solar to achieve a meteoric rise to the top. Clean electricity will reshape the global economy, from transport to industry and beyond. A new era of falling fossil emissions means the coal power phasedown will happen, and the end of gas power is now within sight. Change is coming fast. However, it all depends on the actions taken now by governments, businesses, and citizens to put the world on a pathway to clean power by 2040,” said Ember’s senior electricity analyst, Małgorzata Wiatros-Motyka.

Global gas power generation also fell in 2022 (-0.2%) for the second time in three years, in the wake of high gas prices globally. Only 31 GW of new gas power plants were built in 2022, the lowest in 18 years.

According to modeling by the International Energy Agency, the electricity sector needs to move from being the highest-emitting sector to being the first sector to reach net zero by 2040 to achieve economy-wide net zero by 2050. This would mean wind and solar reaching 41% of global electricity by 2030, compared to 12% in 2022.

In emphasis, Damilola Ogunbiyi, CEO and Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for
Sustainable Energy for All, and Co-Chair of UN-Energy said global progress, while encouraging, doesn’t reveal the growing disparity in renewable energy adoption which is tipped disproportionately in favor of developed countries and emerging economies in Asia; much more needs to be done to ensure
that developing countries are not left behind and are locked into high carbon futures.

“Furthermore, coal power remained the single largest source of electricity worldwide,
producing 36% of global electricity in 2022, which means that the power sector
remains off-track in meeting net zero targets globally by mid-century, the deployment
of wind and solar needs to be massively and urgently accelerated,” said Damilola Ogunbiyi.

Leave a reply