A new study published on Monday explains why countries throughout Africa would be wise to focus on making sizable investments in renewable solar energy and steer clear of the traps of the so-called “Dash for Gas” paradigm, which would burden economies with stranded assets, waste billions on pricey fossil fuel infrastructure, and heighten financial instability in the years to come.
According to a recent Carbon Tracker report titled “African Sun: Why Solar Not Gas Offers Continent the Best Economic Opportunity in the Transition,” the continent’s economic future will be based on electricity, with solar energy taking the lead. This is because renewable energy sources will replace dirty fossil fuels.
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Progressive economists and climate campaigners have urged nations not to follow the example of other petrostates or nations in the Global North that mined and burned their way through the fossil fuel era, even though some government leaders in Africa have backed the push by oil and gas giants to accelerate exploration and development of coal, oil, and gas resources.
The need for African crude oil and natural gas “will shrink as the globe delves deeper” into the switch to renewable energy, the report says as wealthier nations, particularly in Europe, continue to move away from burning oil and gas. Lower oil and gas prices as a result of decreased demand will make it more difficult for expensive infrastructure projects like pipelines to generate the promised returns on investment. This is happening at a time when the cost of renewables is continuing to decline and the promise of wind and solar is being realized globally.
Kofi Mbuk, the report’s primary author, declared in a statement that “the energy transition from fossil fuels to renewables is certain and irreversible.” “Renewable energy sources are currently squeezing out the need for fossil fuels to meet the expansion in energy demand on a regional and global scale. The best path for economic development is provided by solar and wind in Africa and other rising economies.
The push for renewable energy in Africa has been promoted by numerous supporters who contend that there is no reason for the Global South to pursue a filthy energy path while climate leaders from all over the world are still assembled at COP27 in Egypt.
While burning coal and gas now accounts for close to 60% of Africa’s electricity generation capacity, the new analysis notes that the continent’s physical position offers favorable circumstances for solar energy. Large-scale solar deployment in Africa has been “hampered by lack of money, poor electrical infrastructure, political and social instability, and almost 50% more sunlight than in the Global North,” according to the paper.
The report, according to a statement from Carbon Tracker,
requests that African authorities foster private investment by establishing a stable regulatory environment with favorable solar revenue models. Additionally, they must implement regulations to create a reliable and effective grid infrastructure that facilitates the installation of renewable energy sources and addresses issues with instability.
According to the study, solar energy could account for up to half of all installed capacity in Africa by 2050, growing from 14 GW in 2021 to 55 GW in 2030 and over 400 GW by that time.
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According to Mbuk, it makes little economic sense for Africa to place itself on a course toward higher fossil fuel use when the cost of renewable energy is declining.
According to him, “African countries have the opportunity to unlock significant private and public money for their energy transition as the cost of solar continues to plummet rapidly.” By the end of this decade, establishing new solar energy facilities in Africa will be more cost-effective than maintaining existing coal and gas power plants for generating electricity..