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With the energy systems of many African countries dominated by fossil-fuel sources that are vulnerable to global price volatility, regional and intra-continental power systems with high shares of renewable energy can provide least-cost option to support continued economic growth and address the continent’s acute energy access problem. Unlocking Africa’s huge renewable energy potential could help to take many people out of poverty, while ensuring the uptake of sustainable technologies for the continent’s long-term development.
IRENA’s report, West African Power Pool: Planning and Prospects for Renewable Energy, examines various scenarios for accelerated renewable energy uptake, based on a modelling tool developed by IRENA and tested with assistance from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Initial results from the System Planning Test model for West Africa (SPLAT-W), covering all continental ECOWAS countries, show that the share of renewable technologies in the region could increase from the current 22% of electricity generation to as much as 52% in 2030, provided that the cost of these technologies continues to fall and fossil fuel prices continue to rise. In this scenario, nearly half of the envisaged capacity additions between 2010 and 2030 would be with renewable technologies.
Analysis using SPLAT-W – along with a similar model developed for Southern Africa – can provide valuable input for regional dialogue and energy projects such as the East and Southern Africa Clean Energy Corridor and the Programme for Infrastructure and Development in Africa (PIDA). IRENA, together with partner organisations, has started plans to set up capacity building and development support for energy system modelling and planning for greater integration of renewables in Africa. IRENA is also completing a similar model and study for East Africa and intends to extend this work to Central and North Africa.
All data and results presented on this report can be found here.