New analysis released on Monday explains why countries across Africa would be wise to aim for massive investments in renewable solar power and avoid the pitfalls of the so-called “Dash for Gas” paradigm that would cripple economies with stranded assets, would waste billions on expensive fossil fuel infrastructure and increase financial instability over the next few years.
The new Carbon Tracker report, titled African Sun: Why solar and not gas offers the continent the best economic opportunity in the transition— argues that a rejection of dirty fossil fuels in favor of renewables means that “electricity will be the backbone of Africa’s economic future, with solar leading the way.”
“By the end of this decade, we predict that across Africa it will be cheaper to generate electricity by building new solar power plants than to continue to run coal and gas-fired power plants. .”
While some government leaders in Africa have backed efforts by oil and gas giants to accelerate the exploration and development of coal, oil and gas resources, progressive economists and climate activists have urged nations not to follow the path set by other oil states or countries in Africa. the global North that has mined and burned its way through the age of fossil fuels.
The report warns as wealthier countries, particularly in Europe, continue to move away from burning oil and gas that “demand for crude oil and natural gas from Africa will decline as the world will sink” into the transition to green energy. Lower demand will in turn lead to lower oil and gas prices, making it harder for expensive pipelines and other infrastructure projects to deliver the promised returns on investment, all at a time when the cost Renewable energy continues to decline and the promise of wind and solar power are being realized worldwide.
“The energy transition from fossil fuels to renewables is inevitable and irreversible,” said Kofi Mbuk, lead author of the report, in a statement. “Growth in global and regional energy demand is now being met by renewables and compressing fossil fuel demand. In Africa and emerging economies, solar and wind offer the best path for economic development.
While climate leaders from around the world are still gathered at COP27 in Egypt, the call for renewable energy in Africa has been promoted by many advocates who say there is no reason for countries in the Global South follow a dirty energy path.
The new report highlights that while gas and coal combustion currently provides almost 60% of Africa’s power generation capacity, the continent’s geographic location offers ideal conditions for solar power. But even “with more than 50% more sunlight than in the North,” the report says, large-scale solar deployment in Africa has been “hampered by lack of financing, poor power infrastructure and instability. political and social.
The report, as Carbon Tracker notes in a statement,
calls on African policy makers to encourage private investment by creating a stable regulatory environment with favorable revenue models for solar energy. They must also adopt policies to build a robust and efficient grid infrastructure that supports the deployment of renewable energy and responds to the challenges of instability.
It finds that solar power has the potential to grow from 14 GW in 2021 to 55 GW in 2030 and over 400 GW by 2050, providing up to half of Africa’s total installed capacity.
Mbuk says that with the cost of renewables falling, it makes little economic sense for Africa to get on a path to greater use of fossil fuels.
“The cost of solar power continues to fall dramatically, which means African countries have the opportunity to unlock huge pools of private and public finance for their energy transition,” he said. “By the end of this decade, we predict that across Africa it will be cheaper to generate electricity by building new solar power plants than to continue to operate both coal-fired and gas.”