Putting green on the African grid

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Putting green on the African grid

Renewable and sustainable energy solutions in Africa have gone beyond conversation and into comprehensive transformation, by Norman Moyo, CEO of Distributed Power Technologies (formerly Distributed Power Africa), a business of Cassava Technologies

Energy is the lifeblood of business and global economy. It’s the light switch, the retail outlet, the manufacturing line, and every business and sector in between. Reliable energy supply has the potential to transform Africa, renewable energy has the potential to paint the continent green. In a recent analysis, the International Monetary Fund unpacked how the reduced costs of renewable energy technologies and the continent’s geography can combine to provide Africa with sustainable and cost-effective energy that could keep it well below the Paris Agreement emission levels while still allowing for growth and expansion. It also highlights the fact that Africa’s power shortages cost the continent around 2-4% of GDP annually, and that power costs consumers nearly twice as much, on average, than consumers pay elsewhere. These conversations aren’t new, and fundamentally have change.

While energy distribution and demand differ from country to country, cost and access remain two of Africa’s biggest energy challenges. The rising costs of electricity have put pressure on organisations and individuals, limiting growth and impacting the economy. This is further complicated by the fact that these rising costs have come hand in hand with intermittent power cuts and unreliable supply. Companies are feeling the squeeze from every side.

The challenge is to overcome these issues sustainably. Energy – accessible and cost-effective energy – is an enabler but any power solution has to be implemented intelligently, and with an eye on the future and the regulations that are increasingly governing how this power is used and measured. One such regulation, the Paris Agreement, can significantly inhibit a country’s growth and economy if it doesn’t meet the mandated requirements, and others, such as the UN SDGs, are putting pressure on country and company to align. What this means, is that the real eye should be on renewable and sustainable energy solutions that tap straight into the continent’s biggest asset – its geography.

Renewable energy solutions allow for companies and countries to fundamentally transform their access to power, and the cost of that power. This is significant, especially when you look at how demand is set to exponentially increase over the next few years as data centres and manufacturers move onto African shores. These need power – reliable power.

Reliable power means getting the mix of energy provision solutions right, in ensuring that Africa doesn’t have to rely on ageing infrastructure or rising tariffs from unreliable providers to meet its power goals. It also means creating an energy portfolio that limits reliance on fossil fuels and instead extends the green footprint throughout the continent that benefits both the business and the public sector. For organisations, renewable energy solutions will help them meet their Environment, Sustainability and Governance (ESG) goals and add weight to their green credentials. For governments, it means building reputable foundations from which investment can grow. This shift has already been felt in South Africa where recent pricing increases and power reliability issues have resulted in a government-led move towards renewable power sources.

The South African market has seen a notable shift over the past year. Now, with the country pushing for renewable energy with policy, there’s been a surge in renewable energy projects and strategies. This is an exceptional opportunity for companies to step on board the renewable wagon and transform their energy posture, sustainably.

Distributed Power Technologies, a business of Cassava Technologies, has established itself as a contender in the renewables market, providing solutions that can handle immense power load and weight. The company has the capacity to develop projects of up to 20MW each, and works closely with small scale IPP developers with “shovel ready” projects of 5MW and more.  DPT has already commissioned projects for Commercial & Industrial companies like Makro, Builders Warehouse, Africa Data Centres and Liquid Intelligent Technologies in South Africa. The company’s distributed energy strategy is aligned with the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) 2019 that anticipates 10.7GW of existing coal-fired power stations will be decommissioned by 2030. With a 75MW pipeline, DPT can provide tailored renewable solutions at zero upfront investment, and it’s ready to help transform Africa.