Africa is undergoing a sustained period of economic growth and transformation.

Its population is growing rapidly, and its economies are developing and diversifying. In order to be sustained, this growth will need to be fueled by a massive investment in energy. Many experts believe Africa has the potential and the ability to utilise its renewable resources to fuel the majority of its future growth with renewable energy. Doing so would be economically competitive with other solutions, would unlock economies of scale, and would offer substantial benefits in terms of equitable development, local value creation, energy security, and environmental sustainability.

 

A serious need for new energy still exists in Africa. There is a chronic electricity supply shortage across Africa. The 48 Sub-Saharan countries have a combined installed generation base of only 68 GW, according to the African Development Bank Group. This is roughly equal to the generation capacity of Spain, a country whose population is less than 5% that of Sub-Saharan Africa.

A wind turbine works like a fan, but in reverse. Instead of using electricity to make wind, like a fan,

wind turbines use wind to make electricity. Most wind turbines used by electric utility companies consist
of rotor blades which rotate around a horizontal hub. The hub is connected to a gearbox and generator,
which are located inside the nacelle. The nacelle houses the electrical components and is mounted at
the top of a tall steel tower. The foundation holds the turbine in place on the ground
Solar energy is a natural choice for much of Africa given its vast available resources. Over 80% of survey respondents cited Africa’s strong solar resources as a strong driver for renewables deployment.
The technology matches Africa’s renewable resources 88%
The technology is suitable for rural, off-grid applications 85%
The technology is well proven 77%
The technology can be deployed quickly 71%
The technology is relatively cheap to deploy 40%

here are virtually countless benefits of solar farming. Some are obvious, such as the fact that solar energy is clean energy, and some are not so obvious, such as reducing water usage in around the world. The potential return on investment is quite attractive, and financing incentives are making solar farming easier than it has ever been. This is of course in addition to the reduction in costs to build solar panels by as much as 60% in recent years. These advancements and cost reductions make the many benefits of solar farming even more attainable.

The first benefit of solar farming is of course environmental. The sun is a clean, renewable source of energy that has very few negative effects on the environment. The only argument that could be said against it really is that it takes up space and that that panels could be considered to damage a natural ecosystem. However, there are new ideas to combat this issue every day. Brownfields and even airports are being considered fair game for solar farms and they each reduce the effect of the panels on previously untouched ecosystems.

The environmental benefits of solar farming are undeniable, but the financial benefits cannot be ignored either. There are numerous ways to finance solar farming, from investors to government subsidies, and the profit making potential only gets greater with the falling costs and increased financing options. Creating more solar energy to be released into the power grid reduces the amount of energy from non-renewable sources needed. But the money is made from selling renewable certificates. These can be sold to utilities or to individuals through the power utilities, and the result is a hefty profit to the solar farm owner.

The benefits of solar farming far outweigh any potential negative effects or costs. The panels are pricey but the price is falling, and with innovative ideas when it comes to space, these farms could well be the future of the world’s energy sources. In the not too distant future it is even predicted that solar energy will make up to one quarter of the world’s electricity.

Solar power system technology has advanced a great deal since its beginnings due largley to demand. A photovoltaic cell is a device that generates electricity by reacting to the suns light rays.  To generate a useful amount of electricity, many of these cells are combined to create a solar panel. These panels are also known as photovoltaic cells, solar cells or solar panels.  A solar panel typically generates 12 volts DC (Direct Current). These panels can be used individually or they can be wired together in what is called a solar array. The number of panels used in the array is determined by a number of factors such as sunlight but here are many other factors that determine solar power effectiveness such as:

  • The amount of electricity required.
  • How much sunlight is available.
  • Weather conditions – the conditions on any given day
  • Climate – Weather patterns over a long period of time. Early morning fog for example.
  • Location, Pollution and Air Density.
Solar energy is a natural choice for much of Africa given its vast available resources. Over 80% of survey respondents cited Africa’s strong solar resources as a strong driver for renewables deployment.

The technology matches Africa’s renewable resources 88% 88
The technology is suitable for rural, off-grid applications. 85

The Future for Clean Energy in Africa is bright. Renewable energy has the potential to play a major role in reducing Africa’s acute power supply gap for the following reasons:

  • Extensive renewable resources: The prime driver for renewable energy in Africa is the continent’s extensive renewable energy resources – 88% and 81% of survey participants cited Africa’s strong solar and wind resources as a driver for solar PV and onshore wind development respectively.
  • Comparative Advantage: Much electricity generation in Africa relies on diesel fuel. With limited refining capacity on the continent and few pipeline networks, the cost of diesel powered electricity generation is high. Removing fuel costs from the equation gives renewable energy a comparative cost advantage that it does not have in countries with multiple sources of fossil fuels and developed fuel transportation networks.
  • Ease of deployment: Renewables can be installed much more rapidly than conventional fossil fuel generation. Solar PV also has a natural advantage over other renewable technologies in that it can be deployed on a relatively small scale – 85% of survey respondents believe that solar PV’s suitability for rural, off-grid applications is a strong driver for its installation.
  • Sustainable: A green agenda is also driving renewables deployment. For example, South Africa has a long-term commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In 2009 the country committed to cut carbon emissions by 34% below expected levels by 2020 and by 42% by 2025