African nations could install 30 GW by 2030: BSW-Solar

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The African solar PV market could grow to as much as 30 GW by 2030, according to a new report on the potential of 10 key countries by the German Solar Association (BSW-Solar) and the Becquerel Institute, in cooperation with Intersolar Europe.

The Solarize Africa Market Report points to an enormous amount of potential across the continent that has yet to be exploited, based on research focusing on South Africa, Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria, Ghana, Algeria, Ethiopia, Angola, Namibia and Tanzania. More than 1 GW of solar capacity was installed throughout Africa in 2018, according to statistics from both BSW-Solar and the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), bringing cumulative installations for the entire continent to slightly more than 5 GW by the end of 2018.

“The solar potential in Africa is large, as is Africa’s energy demand, and we are optimistic about many of the markets we analyzed,” says David Wedepohl, managing director of BSW-Solar. “We estimate we would need about 2,000 TWh solar PV to fully decarbonize the energy consumption on the continent by 2040.”

The report notes that total PV installations in Africa account for only about 1% of the world’s cumulative installed capacity. The researchers say that investment opportunities vary throughout the continent based on a range of factors, including political stability, solar radiation and the receptiveness of different markets to foreign investors.

However, many countries will need to upgrade and expand aging and underdeveloped grid infrastructure in order to facilitate significant PV development, the researchers say.

“In only partially electrified countries, off-grid solar and storage power solutions can sometimes enable a lower-cost electrification than the expansion of electricity grids,” says Gaëtan Masson, managing director of the Becquerel Institute.