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AfDB approves $9.72m grant to modernise African hydropower

Hydropower plants, like Kinguélé Aval in Gabon, can, with refurbishment, play a key role in Africa's energy transition by reducing reliance on fossil fuel-derived electricity

Hydropower plants, like Kinguélé Aval in Gabon, can, with refurbishment, play a key role in Africa's energy transition by reducing reliance on fossil fuel-derived electricity

19th December 2023

By: Donna Slater

Features Deputy Editor and Chief Photographer

     

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The African Development Bank- (AfDB)-managed Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa (SEFA), on November 21, approved a $9.72-million grant to scale up the Africa Hydropower Modernisation Programme (AHMP) – a one-stop shop that overhauls African hydropower systems to enhance their reliability and flexibility.

With this new funding, AHMP will expand the modernisation of a pipeline of 12 private-sector-led projects in eight countries selected through a competitive process.

The physical works and preparation activities will lead to an additional 570 MW of available capacity at an estimated $1-billion investment, including from the private sector.

Together, the 12 projects will also reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 1.7-million tonnes of carbon dioxide-equivalent a year.

The projects also include the upgrade of the cooling water system for Sudan’s 280 MW Roseires plant to reduce forced outages and the replacement of electromechanical equipment older than 60 years at the 7 MW Lubilanji 1 plant in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

AfDB renewable energy division manager and Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa (SEFA) manager João Duarte Cunha says that about half of Africa's hydropower assets are over 30 years old and ageing fast.

“Modernising them with the latest electro-mechanical and digital technologies is the fastest and cheapest way to increase clean energy capacity and enhance system flexibility needed to accelerate energy transition efforts.”

The SEFA project fully aligns with the AfDB’s New Deal on Energy for Africa, which aims to provide universal access to energy for Africans, prioritising low-carbon technologies that harness the continent's hydro, solar, geothermal and wind resources.

Modern hydropower plays a key role in Africa's energy transition by reducing reliance on fossil fuels and anchoring larger shares of variable renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. 

The AfDB group established AHMP in 2021, with a $1-million grant from SEFA to increase low-cost, low-impact installed capacity, enhance African power systems' reliability and flexibility, and support hybridisation solutions such as floating solar photovoltaic.

The programme is anchored in a partnership with the International Hydropower Association, which recently mapped Africa-wide modernisation needs and opportunities of the current hydropower fleet.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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