Africa's green energy transition unlikely soon
12 January 2021
A new study by Galina Alova, Philipp Trotter and Alex Money has predicted that Africa's electricity production will rely largely on fossil fuels over the next decade. By considering power generation project failure rates, as well as country-level characteristics, the authors created a machine-learning model to predict the which energy projects currently being planned would be likely to succeed.
There has been a widely shared view that African countries could "leapfrog" directly to green energy but this study suggests that coal, oil and gas will continue to dominate the generation of electricity across 54 African countries, with less that 10% coming from renewable sources, with the exception of hydro power.
Despite the poor outlook for renewables, the authors say that there are a number of factors that could shift the odds in favour of green energy over the next decade. The US, for example, is investing in natural gas plants in Africa. Redirecting these funds to non-fossil fuels could provide the kick start that the green technologies need. Unless a there is a large-scale cancellation of the fossil fuel plants currently in the pipeline, the study points to high carbon lock-in risks for Africa.
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