The climate change conference COP271 offers a unique opportunity to increase energy access and lay the foundations for decarbonisation across Africa, but wealthy nations must deliver on their climate finance pledges to unlock the continent’s potential, according to a new report.
‘Pathways for Africa’s Energy Future,’ a report from the technology group Wärtsilä, provides power system modelling of three African countries, Nigeria, South Africa and Mozambique. It finds that they can leapfrog some developed nations by not embedding inflexible fossil fuel-based systems. To enable such a massive transformation a combination of climate finance, effective planning and system reforms will be essential.
The report demonstrates that replacing coal with renewable energy combined with flexibility from engines and energy storage is the most effective way to reduce energy costs, increase energy access and improve reliability. The modelling found that renewable energy and flexibility can generate enough energy to provide power for close to 100 million people in South Africa, Mozambique and Nigeria who currently do not have energy access, if it were matched with the required grid infrastructure. These systems will require a total investment of around USD 119 billion over the next decade, which will not be possible unless wealthy nations deliver on the promise made in 2009 to deliver USD 100 billion annually in climate finance from 2020.2
Håkan Agnevall, President and CEO, Wärtsilä Corporation said: “Despite contributing less than 3% of the world’s energy‐related carbon emissions, African countries are among the hardest hit by climate change. COP27, hosted in Egypt, is the perfect opportunity to deliver on global climate finance pledges so that, as a global community, we can seize this moment to act and unlock Africa’s renewable potential. That investment must be combined with effective planning and system reforms to increase energy access and create the renewable energy systems of the future.”
Wärtsilä modelled power system decarbonisation pathways for three countries in Africa, each with different starting points and facing differing challenges. Key findings:
Wärtsilä produced this modelling using independent market simulation software PLEXOS to support African countries that wish to shape multi-year plans to build their optimal power systems for the future. Across the continent, countries can help to stimulate investment by setting out clear strategies to build well-functioning flexible renewable grids, showcasing the new opportunities those conditions create, such as green hydrogen production. Regulatory reform is also needed to place a value on flexibility and encourage the market. Doing so will help to lay the foundations for more flexible and reliable grids able to support high levels of renewable energy, while increasing energy access.
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Image: Africa can leapfrog to a renewable and reliable energy future and increase energy access © Wärtsilä Corporation
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Wärtsilä Energy leads the transition towards a 100% renewable energy future. We help our customers in decarbonisation by developing market-leading technologies. These cover future-fuel enabled balancing power plants, hybrid solutions, energy storage and optimisation technology, including the GEMS energy management platform. Wärtsilä Energy’s lifecycle services are designed to increase efficiency, promote reliability and guarantee operational performance. Our track record comprises 76 GW of power plant capacity and 110 energy storage systems delivered to 180 countries around the world.
Wärtsilä in brief
Wärtsilä is a global leader in innovative technologies and lifecycle solutions for the marine and energy markets. We emphasise innovation in sustainable technology and services to help our customers continuously improve their environmental and economic performance. Our dedicated and passionate team of 17,000 professionals in more than 200 locations in 68 countries shape the decarbonisation transformation of our industries across the globe. In 2021, Wärtsilä’s net sales totalled EUR 4.8 billion. Wärtsilä is listed on Nasdaq Helsinki.
1 COP is the supreme decision-making forum of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), bringing signatory governments together once a year to discuss and agree how to jointly address climate change and its impacts.