The promise of renewables in remote Central Africa


Than half the population of Africa can can rely on just flicking on a switch light or heat or cooking and that also limits technological advances in banking education and healthcare a recent International Energy Agency report says skipping over the fossil fuel heavy grids the most of the rest of the world relies on and turning straight to solar and micro grids or even wind power has real potential for accelerating development particularly in Central African countries. Michael at the University of Pittsburgh Researches Energy Policy Policy and he says that renewable I approach can work with some caveats. I've seen myself attempts to almost helicopter. Drops solar panels in rural areas. And without any kind of local button. This doesn't work very well. Because one challenge for instance is that many people would like like ideally to have access to the great and feel that the smaller systems do not quite provide kind of services. They were hoping for. I think think what really needs to happen is a lot of bottom up involvement from these local communities to tell other people what their needs exactly are so that these can be met met the best and most effective way as possible in your experience. What is an effective installation on maybe a household or village or town level? Just exactly what would that look like. So these needs very quite a bit across very different settings and I think that's precisely why renewable off great technologies are potentially so powerful is we can really use them tailor them to match what people really can use them for. That's the big difference to the grids because the grid rid is one size fits all type of approach right every house here in the US. For instance once you're connected you have about the same type of services that you can use. They're in somebody's countries. It's going to be very helpful to be able to adapt the kind of technology to their financial means and as a result you can really make the best use use of that without having to go through the high costs imposed by extending the grid so obviously some countries like China that makes solar panels see a potential new mark here but other other global economic gains that we could see by the transition to a different type of electrical infrastructure. This has really serious consequences says on how these families these villages how much they can really produce think about any kind of business if you have a small grocery and you WanNa Fridge Ginny power you need artificial lighting to be able to operate after nightfall so I think what is really going to be. The more and more transformative effect of these technologies can come from allowing places that would otherwise be fairly unproductive from an economic standpoint to suddenly really be able to use their potential and they become much more productive. That way Michael. At Clinton University of Pittsburgh the report says the continent of Africa could by twenty forty meet the energy demands of of an economy. That's grown to four times larger than today's but used just fifty percent more energy and now some related links. The report is worth reading. It says Africa is going to become increasingly influential in shaping global energy trends over the next six two decades. And that's because it's undergoing the largest process of urbanization the world's ever seen the number of people. Living in Africa's cities will grow by six hundred with million. That's more than the increase we've seen in China so the energy demand will grow. Brookings also has incredible visuals and a report on Energy Africa which which are worth clicking through to. For example one graph highlights the cost burden of powering a refrigerator for a year as a percentage of GDP per capita in the US like France UK and other developed countries. It's basically zero in Liberia it's forty-nine percent and really it's all those central African African countries at the expensive end of that chart and we just talked about micro grids on marketplace tech earlier this month

Coming up next