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Solar farming in Africa


Title Solar Farming in Africa: Green Electricity Powered by the Sun
Director(s) Intelligence Squared
Date released (year) 2012
Production company Intelligence Squared: the world of   debate
Length 5.33 mins
Location London
Keywords/tags Renewable energy, solar, natural   resources
Link to film
Synopsis In the fourth installment of our iq2 Shorts series,   Professor Michael Düren of DESERTEC argues that we can harness the African   desert sun to power the world.

The animation is adapted from our Switched On evening ‘Energy Game Changers’   from March 2012. Click on the following link to watch the four other carbon   cutting energy solutions presented that evening

Reviews/discussion African renewables potential mapped

Bernard Appiah

1 March 2012 |

Some of the best potential   for solar power is in the Sahara belt

European Commission Joint   Research Centre

Tapping into Africa’s renewable energy could transform living standards across   the continent, according to a report that has mapped the potential of   renewables in the region.

The report aims to help   African governments set up renewable energy plans, and has called for the   urgent transfer of relevant knowledge to research and technology partners in   Africa.

“Only if much of the   research, prototyping, demonstration and large-scale deployment are done by   African people, one can accelerate the uptake of renewable energy,” says   the report, published by the European Commission Joint Research Centre (JRC)   last month (8 February).

Renewable energy has   particular relevance in remote and rural areas, where around 600 million   people live without electricity, and where renewables would be cheaper than   extending national grid services, the report says.

The authors used geographical   data to map out regions that could generate electricity from the sun, wind,   biomass and water. They then identified those regions where using renewables   might be cheaper than existing sources such as diesel or electricity grids.

“We found good wind   energy potential in North Africa and good solar energy potential in Sub-Saharan Africa   and the Sahara belt,” said the report’s editor, Fabio Monforti-Ferrario.

The report says small hydroelectric   power plants would suit Equatorial Africa, where many people live closer to   river systems than to existing electricity grids.

Monforti-Ferrario added that   “biomass is the ‘green gold’ of Central Africa”, but cautioned against   its widespread use on sustainability grounds.

Speaking more broadly, he   said Africa’s ability to tap the potential of renewables potential is   hampered by reliance on subsidised diesel fuel.

“It is the policy of   African countries to keep the cost of diesel low, even though [this policy]   is unsustainable. It makes the use of [alternatives like] photovoltaic   systems unattractive to consumers,” he said.

This view is backed by   Dieter Holm, honorary   board member of the International Solar Energy Society based in South Africa.   But he said the report had focused too heavily on petrol subsidies, and not   enough on the ability of renewable to create jobs.

Holm said that in Africa   photovoltaics and wind energy can create 62 and 12 jobs per gigawatt hour of   electricity produced respectively, compared to less than one job in the coal   industry for the same energy output.

“Political   decision-makers in Africa should be well-informed of the overall potential of   renewable energy sources in terms of electricity generation, job creation,   and environmental sustainability,” Holm told SciDev.Net.


Link to full report      [3.16MB]



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