The world currently had installed electricity capacity of about 4 000 GW and given the expected strong growth in demand for electricity, this should be doubled by 2030, power utility Électricité de France (EDF) senior executive vice-president for international operations Gerard Wolf told a conference on Tuesday.
He noted during the first day of the Power and Electricity World Africa conference, in Johannesburg, that despite many countries investing in additional capacity, this still left about 1,6-billion people without electricity.
This was no longer the time for only doing energy studies but rather the time for implementation, as more capacity was needed across the world, he said.
Further, Wolf emphasised that no choice could be made between “good” and “bad” energy sources and that the world needed to make use of all forms of energy, including coal, renewable energy and nuclear energy as part of the overall solution to the global electricity supply constraints.
No form of energy could be considered as the sole solution to the world’s energy problems, he added.
Wolf further urged all countries and regions to participate in energy-efficiency, saying that this could not only be required from rich nations.
Meanwhile, Kenya Electricity Generating chairperson Titus Mbathi said that Africa could claim a strong presence in the world of commerce if it could unlock its energy potential to drive industrial growth. However, the countries on the continent had to first overcome the psychological barrier that made them believe that it was not possible to transform the “dark continent” into one comparable with the Asian economic tigers.
He told delegates that African countries had to accept that an adequate supply of electricity was a prerequisite for economic development.
To obtain adequate capital to develop the African energy sector, countries had to introduce appropriate reforms, such as the unbundling of the power sector into separate regulatory, generation, transmission and distribution agencies, said Mbathi.
Further, he urged governments to zero rate machinery and equipment intended for the power generation sector and to grant appropriate tax holidays for those in the energy sector.
The African energy sector’s future looked “very bright”, stated Mbathi, adding that there was cause for optimism that countries on the continent could deal with the challenge of electricity supply shortages.
He highlighted that a number of countries were already boosting electricity generation, with South Africa set to spend about $20-billion on its capacity expansion over the coming five years and Kenya $2,5-billion on its capacity expansion over the next five years.
Ethiopia would bring a 2 000 MW of hydropower on line in the coming two months, while Sudan was boosting its power generation capacity by 700 MW in the near term and Uganda its capacity by 300 MW in the near term.
Africa also had 70 000 MW of hydropower potential, 7 000 MW of geothermal power potential and a huge untapped solar and wind energy resource that it could benefit from.
“These examples bear sufficient testimony of Africa’s changing role in unlocking her energy potential,” said Mbathi.
He added that the development of regional power pools was another encouraging development, saying that high transmission interconnectors could connect these power pools.
“A unified African grid will enable our continent to provide electricity to every African homestead and have adequate power for industries.”