Africa added 556 MW of on-grid solar in Q1 2019

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The African Continent has deployed 556 MW of grid-connected PV capacity in the first quarter of this year, according to newly released figures from UK-based consultancy African Energy Live Data.

This capacity represents a bit more than the half of the total installed power generation in Africa between January and March, which was about 1,097 MW. This was, however, the lowest level of total new installed energy capacity achieved for the continent on a quarterly basis since 2011.

Despite a difficult start to the year, new additions for 2019 are expected to be in line with recent years, as a significant number of large state-owned power plants are scheduled to begin operating, according to the consultancy. In 2018, total new power generation deployment capacity was around 18.7 GW according to African Energy Live Data.

The slowdown shows that momentum gained over the past four years has been difficult to sustain,” the company further explained. “However, there is also some suggestion that the reduction in state-led projects is not being adequately replaced by new private initiatives, leaving open the potential of future supply shortfalls.”

Egypt, which is currently seeing several projects come online from the 1.8 GW Benban solar complex, accounted for 35% of new capacity additions in the first quarter of this year, but this percentage is expected to drop to around 23% by the end of 2019. The region with the largest share in new capacity was the so-called “West, East and Southern Africa excluding South Africa,” which supplied 56% of total net capacity generation in the first quarter. Central Africa was the region with the lowest level of development at only 2.4%.

Of the total 1.09 GW of grid-tied power added to Africa’s energy supply in the first quarter, around 776 MW was supplied by independent power producers. Another 283 MW came from state-owned entities, and the remaining 64 MW were leased projects.