East Africa is set to face increasing demand for energy amid rapid population growth, urbanisation, deforestation, fossil fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. However, the strain that this will place on already fragile built and natural ecosystems is behind the growth of renewable energy.
As the largest economy in the region, Kenya has taken some major steps to boost its renewable energy production as forecasts indicate that the percentage of fossil fuels in total energy needs could increase by as much as 29 percent if it does not. Countries like Uganda and Tanzania are also largely reliant on biomass fuels such as charcoal and wood, and are therefore exploring the benefits of green growth.
This momentum is being supported by environmental credit lines that are being extended to local banks in Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania in order to finance renewable energy and related investments. Through this credit structure, investments of up to €10 million are granted to hydroelectricity, biomass, biogas, and solar and wind power projects that promote energy efficiency primarily in agribusiness sectors.
There are many other financial programmes that have been established to help get large-scale green energy projects off the ground in Africa. This will be a major topic of discussion at the Africa Renewable Energy Leaders' Summit, so don't miss out!
The tiny country of Rwanda is leading the way when it comes to installed solar energy capacities, with the completion of a US$24 million solar farm in the Agahozo Shalom Youth Village boosting national energy grid capacity by 7 percent. The 8.5MW installation has 2,800 solar panels and is the first utility-scale project to have reached financial closure under the African Clean Energy Finance Programme
Ethiopia leads in wind power after the 120MW Ashegoda wind farm located in the north of the country, was built and came online in 2013. Ethiopia already produces a further 51MW from wind energy.
In Kenya, private investor Greenmillenia Energy Limited is developing a 40MW solar plant that will feed electricity to the national by grid. According to the World Bank, Kenya has nearly 1,000 MW of wind capacity potential, but currently only a 6 MW is installed on the outskirts of the capital, Nairobi.
However, the country also leads the geothermal power sector, with 350 MW of capacity and, according to the Kenya Energy Regulatory Commission, has over 10,000 MW of geothermal resource potential.
While these figures may seem small in comparison with installed capacities in North America and Europe renewable energy is big business in Africa. Don't miss your chance to have your say on how it develops.