In the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) recently released publication, the ‘World Energy Outlook’, renewable technology contributed almost 50 per cent of the world’s new power generation capacity in 2014 and has positioned itself as the second-largest source of electricity. The report predicts that renewables will overtake coal as the largest source of power generation by the early 2030s.
According to the head of the IEA, Faith Birol, Africa could be the first region in the world to power its economic development on renewable energy. Birol contrasts this to the world’s existing major economies in the EU, US and China, all of which have built economic growth with the use of coal. The IEA’s outlook broadly aligns with the African Development Bank’s vision to electrify the content through a focus on renewables, yet it places a far heavier emphasis on natural gas. This reflects its underling assumptions about the future and the relative cost of renewables.
Some of Africa’s top exporting countries such as Libya, Nigeria and Algeria, are currently being affected by low oil prices. However, East African countries such as Tanzania and Mozambique, are becoming significant natural gas exporters and users. The IEA’s report predicts that nearly 40 per cent to the total power generation capacity in Africa will be from renewables by 2040. The African Development Bank’s President, Akinwumi A. Adesina, calls for a ‘renewables revolution’ and claims there is potential for 11 terawatts of solar, 350GW of hydro and 110GW of wind.