African Energy Data Book launched

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The African Energy Data Book was launched at the fifth annual African Investment Exchange: Power and Renewables meeting, which took place in London on November 14 and 15 and brought together investors from across all African electricity sectors.

The publication tracks around 5,500 operating and pipeline projects and their value up to 2021, said the press conference presenters. They added that all data is real, having been gathered by the consultancy’s research team, rather than based on forecast models. Specifically, the team said it has collected primary source material, for example, information published by businesses and regulators, which comprise both on- and off-grid projects. The off-grid data, however, focuses on commercial and industrial scale projects only, they said.

The book is sponsored by Power Africa, a U.S. initiative. A new version is expected to be published annually, aiming to monitor the development of Africa’s electricity sector.

Plain data

A characteristic of the African Energy Data Book is its minimalistic design, which simply includes pure data and not an analysis of trends.

Africa Energy analyst Dan Marks told the conference that this was a choice the researchers made, so that readers may draw their own conclusions.

Marks did, however, highlight a couple of trends they found, including that of the dominance of big markets.

The book shows us big numbers in big countries, and small numbers in small countries, he said. By this, he means that Africa’s various electricity sectors tend to have a sizeable size in countries where the economy is also big.

Another trend Marks took from the book is “the speed with which things turn around.” Therefore, when regulatory changes encourage investment, the industry responds positively. This means, for example, that there is potential to quickly scale up from zero renewable energy capacity to a meaningful installation based.

Negligible

Overall however, Marks said that solar and wind power’s contribution to the continent’s electricity generation is currently negligible. The figures for 2020 are expected to be around just 2%, respectively, for the two renewable energies.

Similarly, of the continent’s five regions – North, West, Central, East and Southern Africa –  “despite large-scale commitments of finance and investment to solar, wind and other projects, the proportion of renewable energy in the generation mix has actually declined so far in 2018 in all but one region,” said the consultancy.

This does not mean renewable energies do not add capacity; however other sources of energy still outpace renewables.