The European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC), Brussels, Belgium, published a study which assesses current energy consumption and the share of renewables in African states. It attempts to estimate the technical potential of available resources of solar, wind, biomass and hydropower which could be economically used to provide energy for the increasing population.
Relative to the average of the European Union, per capita consumption corresponds to up to 35 times less regarding all energy, and up to 100 times less regarding electricity. Even though electrification made considerable progress in the past 10 years, 600 Mio. of rural population has no access to electricity at all.
Renewable energy options for electricity production in rural areas are discussed, where the de-centralised feature of these technologies allow an economically viable competition with conventional grid extension. It is particularly true in remote areas where the nearest grid infrastructure is already unreliable and overloaded. In areas where household density is < 50 cap/km2, any investment in larger grid infrastructure would never be cost competitive. Small hydroelectric power plants have strong potential in Equatorial Africa due to an extended network of permanent rivers and the fact that most households are located closer to a river than to an existing electricity grid.
Insight in the transport costs of conventional fuel, taking a population density to be served and transport infrastructure into account, are given.
Image: © European Commission, Joint Research Centre