Africa Is On The Verge Of Leading The World In Renewable Energy
Over the next two decades, Africa is poised to lead the world in the global clean energy revolution by using various sources of renewable power sources, according to a new report from the International Energy Agency (IEA).
The Guardian reports that solar energy will play a major role in helping to provide energy to the continent:
“Africa has less than half the solar power installations seen in the UK, despite the sunnier conditions, but the IEA is predicting a solar boom in countries across the continent, which could give hundreds of millions of homes electricity for the first time.”
And that energy will definitely be needed, the IEA notes, as Africa is about to see a dramatic surge in its population:
“More than half a billion people are added to Africa’s urban population by 2040, much higher than the growth seen in China’s urban population in the two decades of China’s economic and energy boom. How Africa meets its growing energy needs is crucial for the continent’s economic and energy future, as well as for global trends.”
As growth continues, so will increased need for energy sources, meaning that the African continent will also become a global force in the oil and gas markets:
“The projected growth in oil demand is higher than that of China and second only to that of India as the size of the car fleet more than doubles (the bulk of which have low fuel efficiency) and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) is increasingly used for clean cooking. Africa’s growing weight is also felt in natural gas markets as the continent becomes the third-largest source of global gas demand growth over the same period.”
Despite the dramatic growth projected for Africa, Fatih Birol, executive director of the IEA says the continent has a “unique opportunity” to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels and transform its economy without contributing to the global climate crisis:
“I am optimistic about Africa’s energy future – it will surprise pessimists. I have great expectations for the energy industry in the years to come, both in terms of bringing energy access to Africa’s people but also driving economic growth.”
How can that be done? Birol encouraged the use of solar power, and mining of the raw materials used for production of electric and hydrogen batteries, adding:
“Africa’s total contribution to cumulative global emissions from energy over the last 100 years is only 2%, which is half the emissions of Germany today. If everyone in Africa had access to energy this 2% will rise to just 3% – it’s still nothing. It’s peanuts compared to other countries in the world which are using fossil fuels such as coal for energy.”
Another challenge is making sure that everyone on the continent has access to power sources, which is a tremendous problem considering the number who currently don’t:
“A critical task for policy makers is to address the persistent lack of access to electricity and clean cooking, and the unreliability of electricity supply, which have acted as brakes on the continent’s development. Today some 600 million people do not have access to electricity and around 900 million people lack access to clean cooking.”
If African nations are able to meet the demand and balance need against environmental impact, it could serve as a model for the rest of the world.
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