According to autonomous organisation the International Energy Agency (IEA), gas and renewable power are expected to be the major sources of energy growth on the African continent in the coming years.
More than 620-million people, or two-thirds of the continent’s population, in sub-Saharan Africa do not have access to electricity, with the region’s largest energy demands coming from Nigeria and South Africa, which together account for more than 40% of total energy demand, says IEA.
Almost half of the growth (45%) in electricity generation to 2040 is expected to derive from renewable energy, notes the IEA, adding that significant renewable resources remain untapped, with excellent solar power opportunities across Africa, hydropower opportunities in many countries, wind opportunities in mainly coastal areas and geothermal opportunities in the East African Rift Valley.
The three largest markets for utility-scale renewable power from 2014 to 2016 are forecast to be in South Africa, with 3.9 GW likely to be installed, the largest part of which will be wind, followed by solar photovoltaic and a smaller amount of solar thermal.
Further, it is forecast that Kenya will produce 1.4 GW of mainly geothermal and wind power; and Ethiopia about 570 MW of predominantly wind energy, with some geothermal energy, says market analyst Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
Technology group Power Technologies (Powertech) business development for renewable energy GM Gary Venter says Powertech, a wholly owned subsidiary of the JSE-listed Altron group, is very much involved as a product supplier in South Africa’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP).
“We have been involved in about 17 of the Round 1 projects, supplying a range transformers, switchgears, cables and cable accessories, as well as supervisory control and data acquisition and protection systems,” says Venter, adding that the group has been involved in about 12 of the Round 2 projects.
Owing to the group’s fairly new entry into the market in 2013, Venter says the biggest challenge was understanding the players involved, as the majority of the developers are from abroad.
He adds that another challenge is that the products were based on international specifications.
“We develop and manufacture according to South Africa Bureau of Standards and SANS specifications,” says Venter, highlighting that the group has to combine the two specifications.
Powertech system integrators executive for strategic projects Kobus Morgan adds that the group has its products installed at the majority of the substations involved in the REIPPPP.