Recent forecasts suggest that African countries must triple their current electricity generation by 2030. Our multicriteria assessment of wind and solar potential for large regions of Africa shows how economically competitive and low-environmental–impact renewable resources can significantly contribute to meeting this demand. We created the Multicriteria Analysis for Planning Renewable Energy (MapRE) framework to map and characterize solar and wind energy zones in 21 countries in the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP) and the Eastern Africa Power Pool (EAPP) and find that potential is several times greater than demand in many countries. Significant fractions of demand can be quickly served with “no-regrets” options—or zones that are low-cost, low-environmental impact, and highly accessible. Because no-regrets options are spatially heterogeneous, international interconnections are necessary to help achieve low-carbon development for the region as a whole, and interconnections that support the best renewable options may differ from those planned for hydropower expansion. Additionally, interconnections and selecting wind sites to match demand reduce the need for SAPP-wide conventional generation capacity by 9.5% in a high-wind scenario, resulting in a 6–20% cost savings, depending on the avoided conventional technology. Strategic selection of low-impact and accessible zones is more cost effective with interconnections compared with solutions without interconnections. Overall results are robust to multiple load growth scenarios. Together, results show that multicriteria site selection and deliberate planning of interconnections may significantly increase the economic and environmental competitiveness of renewable alternatives relative to conventional generation.
The Platform for Energy Access Knowledge (PEAK) is a project partnership between RAEL and Power for All, a global campaign to accelerate the market-based growth of decentralized renewables as the key to achieving universal energy access. The campaign, established in 2014, serves as a collective voice for businesses and civil society focused on off-grid renewable solutions. The research products of this partnership will provide critical evidence needed to support widespread adoption of distributed technologies.
PEAK is an interactive information exchange platform designed to help aggregate and repackage the best research and information on energy access into compelling data-driven stories for a range of target audiences to ensure maximum visibility, usability and discoverability of that information by individuals, organizations and communities working to make energy services accessible to all.
The Power for All Campaign is directed by Kristina Skierka. PEAK research is directed by Dr. Rebekah Shirley, current Postdoctoral Researcher at RAEL.
See PEAK’s Launch Press Release, March 2016
See PEAK products here and look out for our web portal soon to come.
Recently, PEAK conducted a quantitative analysis that examines the policies of five high-growth markets striving to achieve universal energy access — India and Bangladesh in Asia, and Kenya, Tanzania and Ethiopia in Africa — and highlights areas for policy prioritization in Low Energy Access countries. Our research is currently under peer-review. See an unpublished, draft/working version of our manuscript and look out for more information soon.
Isa Ferrall is a MS/Ph.D. student in the Energy and Resources Group and Renewable and Appropriate Energy Lab at the University of California, Berkeley. She is interested in the impact of renewable energy on rural electrification, global development, and the domestic energy sector. Previously, Isa gained experience on both the technical and applied sides of renewable energy. She researched innovative energy materials at Duke University as a National Academy of Engineering Grand Challenge Scholar and at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory as a Department of Energy Intern. She also has analyzed system data for Off-Grid Electric, a solar home system company operating in east Africa. Isa graduated Magna Cum Laude from Duke University in 2015 with distinction in Mechanical Engineering and a Certificate in Energy and the Environment.
For the Human Needs Project full website, click on:
Professor Kammen, serves as the CTO of the Human Needs Project, highlighted how the Kibera Town Center Project provides basic services (water, toilets, showers, laundry) and empowerment services (business skills training, micro-credit, WiFi cafe, health kiosk, green marketplace) to over 800 people per day. These integrated services provide a holistic solution to the challenges of living in a slum. Together, they can help people with a road map to creating a better life.
Kammen demonstrated how clean, local energy can empower vibrant and sustainable community centers. Actress and Human Needs Project Founder and President Connie Nielsen said, “Our vision is to develop a network of community empowerment centers themselves powered by clean energy, which is the most reliable form of power”
Nkiruka Avila is a graduate student in the Energy and Resources Group at the University of California, Berkeley. She graduated with Summa cum Laude honors in Petroleum Engineering from the University of Oklahoma. She has worked in various sectors of the energy industry, from engineering design and production to end-use distribution and marketing. Her current research interests include renewable energy integration, sustainable energy development and rural electrification.
For a video summarizing the program, click here.
The impacts of climate change are already being felt across Africa, leading to greater natural resource scarcity, which has contributed to violent conflict in Darfur (Sudan), Mali, and Somalia, among others. This trend is likely to continue, as Africa is projected to be among geographies most severely impacted by climate change. Though the pathway from climate change to greater natural resource scarcity to violence is not a direct one, the risks of conflict will increase as livelihoods are threatened due to greater scarcity of food, water or arable land. With lower government capacities and limited funding to adapt to climate change impacts, and a relatively weak conflict prevention/resolution architecture in place, climate change is likely to have an increasingly important impact on future conflicts in Africa.
This assessment necessitates new policy planning and development thinking. Despite the threats, the broader global interest in climate change also presents significant opportunities to mobilize new interest and momentum for promoting green development in Africa. This can contribute to an effective conflict prevention strategy, and can also drive increased investment and more diversified economies, improved governance and development outcomes, and greater political stability. This project aims to build the theoretical and practical case for a new model for green development, which can provide both political and economic returns, while delivering both climate sensitive and conflict sensitive development.
Our 3–5 year goal is to seed and support a successful “green” pilot in a still to be selected geography in Africa. A successful pilot will require political buy-in and local political champions, as well as new external investment to support green development projects. This can serve as a model that helps demonstrate the political and economic potential of a green approach, the economic potential of a green framework to external investors, as well as effective conflict prevention. It is our hope that the model, once proven, will be scalable in other geographies.
Solomon’s current research interests include: grid integration of intermittent renewable energy resources (PV and Wind); storage requirements for very high grid penetration of Renewable; load-side management analysis for high grid penetration; employment of SWITCH for the East African Power Pool consortium of utilities.
Solomon received his undergraduate degree in Physics from Bahir Dar University, Bahir Dar, Ethiopia; an M.Sc. degree in Physics from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway; a second M.Sc. and PhD degree specializing in energy system analysis from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Sede Boqer, Israel. He was was a Philomathia postdoctoral fellow at University of California — Berkeley.
Dr. Jacobson is the SERC Director and an associate professor of Environmental Resources Engineering at Humboldt State University. He is also the coordinator of HSU’s master’s program in Energy Technology and Policy. Dr. Jacboson has a Ph.D. from the Energy and Resources Group at the University of California, Berkeley and an M.S. in Environmental Systems (engineering option) from Humboldt State. His areas of research interest include renewable energy technology, energy and climate change mitigation policy, and energy access for low income people in developing countries. His work is interdisciplinary, combining renewable energy engineering, energy policy, and a social geography based approach to international development studies. Dr. Jacobson has extensive international work experience in Africa, South Asia, and Latin America, including recent work focused on the development of an international program to ensure the quality of affordable LED-based off-grid lighting systems appropriate for use by low income people in developing countries.