Eni joins race for Africa’s clean energy market

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Although the penetration of renewable energies is progressing comparitively slowly, with a plethora of challenges impeding progress, the African continent continues to receive a lot of attention by clean energy players, both big and small. These include the energy giants – international oil companies and power utilities – that have increasingly begun focusing on renewables.

One of these is Italy-based oil and gas provider, Eni, which, according to a statement released, already invests more than half of its budget in Africa. In turn, the continent provides Eni with more of the half of its total crude oil and natural gas production.

The company has now announced an agreement with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to help Africa achieve its sustainable development goals. “Per the agreement, Eni will develop business ventures to increase access to clean energy in the region and UNDP will use its extensive development network in over 170 countries to foster an enabling environment to implement the partnership and assess its sustainable impact in local communities,” read the statement.

Initially, Eni aims to launch business ventures in countries, including Angola, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, and Tanzania. Solar energy and floating PV are mentioned, together with wind and off-grid hybrid technologies, as the primary solutions Eni intends to employ.

Eni currently operates in 15 African countries, including in the big oil exporting regions of Nigeria, Angola, Morocco, Algeria, Libya and Egypt. In Algeria and Ghana, meanwhile, it recently launched its solar energy business – an increasing focus of the company. Indeed, in Italy, it is developing 220 MW of PV power plants.

Before Eni, other big European energy players, including EDF, Engie, Enel, and Total, have announced plans to expand into Africa’s renewable energy markets. On the back of increased activity, solar is expected to account for 9% of new energy capacity in Africa over the next two years, according to data recently released by London-based consultancy, African Energy.