The U.K. government has announced at COP24 in Katowice, Poland, that an extra GBP 100 million (US$126 million) has been made available for the development of small-scale renewable energy (RE) generators in Sub-Saharan Africa.
According to the statement, the funds will be directed to the Renewable Energy Performance Platform (REPP) to support up to 40 new RE projects in the region. These will include small-scale solar, wind, hydro and geothermal projects.
Once completed, they are expected to generate enough electricity to supply 2.4 million people. Some of the beneficiaries will have energy access for the first time, while for others the quality of supply is set to be improved.
With the new financing, REPP’s funding has effectively tripled for the next five years. The U.K. Government says it could also unlock an extra GBP 156 million in private finance into Africa’s RE markets by 2023.
To date, REPP has received GBP 48 million from the United Kingdom, which it has used to establish 18 RE projects in the region. These include 7.2 MW of grid-connected PV in Tanzania and 2.72 MW of off-grid PV in Nigeria.
The project in Tanzania is located in the Kilosa District, which has no grid connection. With its realization, 6,000 more people in the district now have access to electricity. Moreover, in the adjacent Morogoro region, some 70,000 people are expected to benefit from the improved supply, as the additional capacity will decrease the frequency with which outages occur.
With a focus on local development, the project provides between 1.5 and 5% of its revenues to a community fund, which is managed by the villagers. Meanwhile, 50 local jobs were created during the construction phase, 25 of which became permanent.
Equipped with a five-year mandate, REPP’s goal is to increase electricity generation capacity in Sub-Saharan Africa by 150 MW and provide new energy access to two million people. It provides gap financing and development phase capital, in addition to access to risk mitigation instruments and long-term lending.
During the announcement at COP, U.K. Energy and Clean Growth Minister Claire Perry said, “At home, we’re world leaders in cutting emissions while growing our economy and abroad we’re showing our international leadership by giving countries a helping hand to shift to greener, cleaner economies.”
And indeed, earlier this year, the United Kingdom committed GBP 56 million for the uptake of battery storage in South Africa. The funds were channeled through the $500 million Clean Technology Fund, part of the Climate Investment Fund, to which the country is the most significant contributor, having paid in $1.6 billion since 2009.
However domestically, the claim of being a world leader is pushing it somewhat, with the government having consistently failed to support the growth of renewables, while at the same time pushing for nuclear and fracking. Most recently, it has proposed cuts to remuneration schemes for small-scale generators, and ending FITs and export tariffs.
Only after the immense protest by industry associations, which likened removing the tariffs to theft and warned the government that thousands of jobs could be lost, did Perry signal that the proposal might not materialize.
She will now have plenty of opportunity to debate the U.K.’s leadership in cutting emissions with the world’s other energy ministers during the COP conference proceedings this week, which are being covered in our live blog by editor Max Hall.