Guest essay by Eric Worrall
The planned construction of 2,500 new power plants, most of them fossil fuel, has dashed hopes that Africa would leapfrog the developed world’s reliance on fossil fuels by going straight to renewable energy.
Climate change: Africa’s green energy transition ‘unlikely’ this decade
Fossil fuels are set to remain the dominant source of electricity across Africa over the next decade, according to a new study.
Researchers found that around 2,500 power plants are planned, enough to double electricity production by 2030.
But the authors say that less than 10% of the new power generated will come from wind or solar.
The authors say that Africa now risks being locked into high carbon energy for decades.
They argue that a rapid, decarbonisation shock is needed to cancel many of the plants currently planned.
Until now, there has been a widely shared view that African countries would “leapfrog” directly to renewable energy sources, and away from old world coal, oil and gas.
Read more: https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-55620848
The abstract of the study;
A machine-learning approach to predicting Africa’s electricity mix based on planned power plants and their chances of success
Galina Alova, Philipp A. Trotter & Alex Money
Energy scenarios, relying on wide-ranging assumptions about the future, do not always adequately reflect the lock-in risks caused by planned power-generation projects and the uncertainty around their chances of realization. In this study we built a machine-learning model that demonstrates high accuracy in predicting power-generation project failure and success using the largest dataset on historic and planned power plants available for Africa, combined with country-level characteristics. We found that the most relevant factors for successful commissioning of past projects are at plant level: capacity, fuel, ownership and connection type. We applied the trained model to predict the realization of the current project pipeline. Contrary to rapid transition scenarios, our results show that the share of non-hydro renewables in electricity generation is likely to remain below 10% in 2030, despite total generation more than doubling. These findings point to high carbon lock-in risks for Africa, unless a rapid decarbonization shock occurs leading to large-scale cancellation of the fossil fuel plants currently in the pipeline.
Read more: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41560-020-00755-9
No doubt African nations will come to their senses when they realise renewables are the cheapest form of energy (do I need the /sarc?).
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