By Colleta Dewa
Johannesburg – The Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) says Africa has world-class wind power potential, which – if maximised – could meet the continent’s energy demands and easily replace any jobs lost to the move away from fossil fuels.
The GWEC says Africa has only tapped into 0.01 percent of its wind energy potential.
In a new report, the organisation says, “The analysis, carried out by Everoze, finds that 27 countries in Africa have enough wind potential on their own to satisfy the entire continental electricity demand which is estimated at 700TWh annually.
“Algeria has the highest resource with a total potential of 7,700 gigawatts, equivalent to over 11 times current global installed wind capacity. Fifteen other countries have technical wind potentials over 1,000 GW including Mauritania, Mali, Egypt, Namibia, South Africa, Ethiopia and Kenya.”
Ms Linda Munyengeterwa, the International Finance Corporation’s infrastructure director for the Middle East and Africa added: “The organisation is committed to working with the public and private sector to help realize Africa’s remarkable, and largely untapped, wind potential.”
Wind is one of the fastest-growing, cheapest sources of new power generation around the world with over 650GW of installed capacity. Installed wind capacity in Africa represents less than one percent of this.
GWEC says a total wind potential on the African continent of over 59,000GW is equivalent to 90 times the current global installed wind capacity.
“This important report demonstrates that the studies which have been published until now have significantly underestimated the opportunity that wind energy represents for Africa. There is a clear need now for governments to enact policies to take advantage of the vast resource that the report identifies and enable large scale investment in wind as a key building block for green economic recovery post COVID–19,” said Mr Ben Backwell, CEO of GWEC.
Mr Emerson Clarke the GWEC Africa task force co-ordinator, pointed out that to tap into the formidable wind power potential, political will was needed, as well as greater collaboration between the private and public sectors.
“It will also be crucial to build out the region’s electricity and transmission infrastructure to ensure stable and cost-competitive energy access and create opportunities for cross-border energy trading through Power Pools, which will be critical for greater energy security in the region,” said Mr Clarke.
The primary market driving wind power growth in the region is South Africa, which installed 515MW of new wind power capacity in 2020, increasing the grid to 2.5GW of cumulative wind power capacity.
Senegal came in second place for new capacity installing 103MW, followed by Morocco (92MW and Egypt (13MW).
The continued growth of the South African wind market is primarily due to the country’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme, which has provided a long-term project pipeline for the industry and attracted investors.
While the South African government has pledged to reach net-zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2050, the move away from coal could cost tens of thousands of jobs.
Meanwhile, GWEC will release its 16th Global Wind Report on March 25, which will provide a comprehensive overview of the global wind industry through the latest market data, country profiles, trends and analyses.