AFRICA: EIB commits 340m euros for water and renewable energy in 5 countries.

The European Investment Bank (EIB) is approving €340 million for water and renewable energy in Africa. The loans are for the construction of sustainable infrastructure in Mali, Chad, Guinea, Malawi and Comoros.

The European Investment Bank (EIB) funding was announced in the margins of an EU-Africa forum co-organised by the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union (EU) and the EIB. The bulk of the funding, €300 million, is for the electricity interconnection between Guinea and Mali. This project is part of the West African Power Pool (WAPP) of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

Under the EIB-financed project, WAPP will construct a 225 kV double-circuit AC power line, approximately 714 km long, from Sanankoroba in Mali to Nzérékoré in Guinea (via Fomi in Guinea). The project also includes the installation of transformer stations in Siguiri, Fomi, Kankan, Kérouane, Beyla and N’Zérékoré (in Guinea) and Sanankoroba (in Mali).

Electricity from the Souapiti hydroelectric plant

The electricity injected into Mali’s national grid is generated from the Souapiti hydroelectric plant, recently commissioned in Guinea. The 550 MW facility operates from a dam built on the Konkoure River by China International Water & Electric Corporation (CWE).

According to the African Development Bank (AfDB), which is co-financing the electricity interconnection between Guinea and Mali, the aim of the project is to increase the availability of electricity in both countries and strengthen the establishment of the regional electricity market in West Africa, in line with the Master Plan adopted in 2012 by ECOWAS heads of state.

Financing electrification via the off-grid

The EIB is also providing funding for off-grid solar electrification in Chad and Comoros. The funding is for the off-grid provider InnoVent, which is expanding its services in Africa, particularly south of the Sahara. This solution is particularly deployed in Chad to accelerate access to electricity in rural or semi-urban areas.

Part of the EIB’s funding is dedicated to the provision of drinking water in Malawi. According to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), 4 million people in this East African country do not have access to drinking water. Currently, the efforts of Malawian authorities and development finance institutions are also directed towards hygiene and sanitation. In Malawi, only 6% of the population has access to a sanitation facility. This leads to open defecation, which is a vector for diseases such as cholera.



27 April 2021

Afrik 21

Nigeria Bets on Solar to Power Its Covid Recovery.

Suleiman Babamanu is implementing the country’s largest investment in solar energy.

Suleiman Babamanu’s path to the heart of Nigeria’s biggest solar power program started in disappointment.

After university he worked as a trainee geoscientist for a unit of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corp. A job in the industry—Nigeria is Africa’s biggest oil producer—would have been a traditional route, and a lucrative one. But he couldn’t find employment.

This was about 2010, when the growth of clean energy around the world made it start to seem like a potential career path. The industry hadn’t gained much traction in Nigeria, and he set aside the idea, until a conversation with a relative persuaded him to reconsider.

“A cousin told me not to go where the money is but where the money is going,” he says. “I immediately changed my mind and applied for a master’s degree in renewable energy, and I got a scholarship.” That sent him to Newcastle University in the U.K. and then on to a range of public and private jobs in his home country’s renewables industry, including projects that had received World Bank funding.

Now he’s implementing Nigeria’s largest investment in solar power, part of the country’s Covid economic recovery plan. The project, Solar Power Naija, is also a step toward solving one of Nigeria’s biggest problems: a lack of reliable electricity.

Under the Paris Climate Agreement, Nigeria has pledged to cut carbon emissions 20% by 2030. To get there, it aims to generate 30% of its energy from renewables. To make progress, 10% of the government’s 2.3 trillion naira ($5.6 billion) of spending to spur recovery from the pandemic will be used to install 5 million solar home systems. The aim is to provide electricity to 25 million people in rural communities that now have no access to the grid.

With Solar Power Naija, the government is aiming to fix the development problems that a lack of access to electricity has created, as well as the pollution that fuel-powered generators, one of the most popular power sources, cause.

“Rural communities, the companies, and people that are using generators or even candles would have access to a cleaner and more efficient power supply,” Babamanu says. “Emissions will be greatly reduced.”

The rollout will focus on building standalone connections, which use solar panels to charge batteries that can then be used at any time, and minigrids, which operate in a similar way but can service larger needs. Both will function separately from the national grid.

The project will also give bidders from across the industry low-interest government loans instead of contracts or grants to finance the equipment and construction—a departure from Nigeria’s normal approach to electrification. Companies will repay what they’ve borrowed with income from customers.

“It’s good that the government is trying to use renewables not just as a tool for solving the energy problem but also for poverty alleviation,” says Adedeji Adeniran, a senior fellow at the Centre for the Study of the Economies of Africa in Abuja. “This shows it’s taking the sustainable agenda seriously.”



8 April 2021

Bloomberg Green

South Africa sets out to tighten 2030 emissions target.

South Africa’s economy is shifting from heavy industry to service sectors, allowing for deeper carbon cuts, but coal lingers in the energy mix.

South Africa is proposing to deepen its emissions cuts by almost a third in 2030, according to a draft climate plan published last week.

The government launched a consultation on its updated climate plan to run until the end of May, with a view to submit a final document to the UN ahead of the Cop26 climate talks in Glasgow, UK, in November.

Under the draft plan, South Africa will limit its annual greenhouse gas emissions to 398-440 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent by 2030. This cuts emissions 28% compared with its 2015 pledge, which capped annual emissions at 614 MtCO2.

It relies on “a very ambitious power sector investment plan” and the implementation of a green transport strategy, energy efficiency programmes and a carbon tax to meet the goal.

“We are not putting up excuses not to do things because there’s Covid-19 pandemic,” Gwede Mantashe, minister of mineral resources and energy, told a summit on climate and development hosted by the UK last week.

Describing the energy transition as “a journey”, Mantasha said: “It is not going to be the stroke of a pen [that] switches off coal power stations and then moves to renewables.”

Deborah Ramalope, an analyst at Climate Analytics and a former member of the South African delegation to UN climate talks, said the draft plan was “much stronger” than its 2015 commitments but left room for greater ambition.

It is “still not aligned with the Paris Agreement temperature goal” of limiting heating to 1.5C by the end of the century, she told Climate Home News.

Wanjira Mathai, regional director for Africa at the World Resources Institute, applauded the proposed target which would put the country’s efforts in line with limiting temperature to 2C, according to benchmarks by Climate Action Tracker.

She welcomed the inclusion of policies to cope with intensifying climate impacts such as early warning systems, climate-resilient development planning, improved governance, and support for research.

South Africa estimates it will need $8 billion a year from the international community by 2030 to finance its decarbonisation and adaptation efforts – more than three times what it received in recent years. Of the climate finance it accessed in 2018-19, 89% was in loans.

South Africa’s tighter target was made possible by lower-than-expected greenhouse gas emissions over the past 10 years and a drop in emission intensity, according to the government document.

Saliem Fakir, South-Africa based executive director for the Africa Climate Foundation, said this can be explained through a growth of the service sector and the decline of carbon-intensive heavy-industries.

sharp rise in electricity tariffs had increased the cost burden on companies and spurred improvements in energy efficiency, he said.

The improved climate plan is “not the result of true ambition,” Fakir told Climate Home News, but rather the side effect of an economic shift towards services.

“This has got nothing to do with an active strategy to bring emissions down. Emissions are still driven by coal,” he added.

State-owned utility Eskom’s coal plants generated 86% of the country’s electricity in 2020, making South Africa the most coal-reliant among G20 economies.

The updated climate plan identifies the electricity sector as a decarbonisation priority for the next decade, while ensuring communities dependent on coal for their livelihoods are guaranteed economic opportunities.

Campaigners and analysts say the country could decarbonise faster, but is held back by an arbitrary cap on renewable energy deployment. Under its 2019 electricity supply strategy, the government allows for another 1,500MW of coal power capacity to be installed this decade, while restricting solar installations to 1,000MW a year and wind to 1,600MW.

“That is our Achilles heel of climate ambition,” Alex Lenferna, secretary of the Climate Justice Coalition, a network of civil society groups in South Africa, told Climate Home News. “It’s also pretty hard for South Africa to secure green finance when we’re planning on building more coal.”

Hartmut Winkler, of the University of Johannesburg, told Climate Home News there was “no need for a renewable cap” which was creating an artificial barrier to decarbonisation.

“If there was a very clear signal that this country was going to push renewables, there would be absolutely no lack of interests from investors,” he said.

Fakir said the government has sought to keep the coal sector on side with a compromise that still allows for a significant amount of coal in the power mix.

While the government has approved a long-term vision to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, the plan would still allow the country to burn coal with no exit date yet agreed.

“There is a lot of politics going on in the coal sector and vested interests. The term ‘coal mafia’ is used quite often to describe opaque purchasing contracts,” Winkler added.

Meanwhile, a fifth procurement round for 1,600 MW of onshore wind and 1,000 MW of solar energy was announced earlier this month – two years later than planned.

As a result of delayed renewable deployment and ageing coal power stations increasingly taken offline for maintenance, South Africa is experiencing periodic power cuts that Eskom says could last for the next five years.




6 April 2021


Renewable energy growth must speed up to meet Paris goals, agency says.

International Renewable Energy Agency says $131tn investment in renewables could be required over three decades.

Renewable electricity production needs to grow eight times faster than the current rate to help limit global heating, according to a report.

The International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena) said urgent action was needed to keep pace with rising demand for electricity, which could require a total investment of $131tn in renewables by 2050.

Francesco La Camera, the director general of Irena, said the “window of opportunity” to achieve the goals of the Paris climate agreement was closing fast.

“The recent trends show that the gap between where we are and where we should be is not decreasing but widening. We are heading in the wrong direction,” La Camera said. “We need a drastic acceleration of energy transitions to make a meaningful turnaround. Time will be the most important variable to measure our efforts.”

The agency’s outlook report says keeping a lid on rising temperatures will require electricity to surpass fossil fuels as the dominant source of energy before 2050, as more economies electrify transport and heating to help cut carbon emissions.

Clean electricity will also be in high demand to produce “green hydrogen” to burn in heavy industry and manufacturing plants where direct electrification is not possible.

The surge in electricity use could mean that electric power will make up just over half of all energy consumed by 2050, compared with 21% in 2018. Fossil fuels have made up almost two-thirds of energy consumption in recent years but may be reduced to 10% by 2050.

The agency believes that the world had already passed its peak oil demand before the slump in the market for transport fuels during the coronavirus pandemic, and gas should peak within the next three years.

Irena’s scenario is in stark contrast to the future modelled by the oil and gas giant Shell, which predicts that demand for gas will continue to climb until the mid-2030s at the earliest before beginning to decline.

The agency expects oil to decline to 4% of the world’s energy use by 2050, gas to peak in 2025 before falling to 6%, and coal to fall to 2% by the middle of the century.

La Camera said there were “several favourable elements” that could hasten the transition to a clean energy system. The economies responsible for more than half of the world’s global carbon emissions have pledged to become carbon neutral by 2050, financial markets and investors are turning towards sustainable investments, and Covid-19 has demonstrated the risks in tethering economies to the financial fate of fossil fuels, he said.

“As governments pump huge sums in bailouts and recovery, investment must support energy transition. It is time to act and countries can lead the way with policies for a climate-safe, prosperous and just energy system fit for the 21st century,” La Camera said.



15 March 2021

The Guardian