Utilization of Renewable Energy
Renewable energy is one that is collected from renewable resources that are naturally replenished on a human timescale. It includes sources such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, waves and geothermal heat.
With its strong supply of wind, sunshine, hydropower and even geothermal resources, Africa offers great potential for renewable energy deployment and investment.
Renewable energy contrasts with fossil fuels, which deplete far faster than they are replenished. Some renewable energy sources are not sustainable, despite the fact that the majority of them are, for example, Biomass, which is considered unsustainable at current rates of exploitation.
Hydropower is the use of falling or fast-running water to produce electricity or to power machines. This is achieved by converting the gravitational potential or kinetic energy of a water source to produce power. Hydropower is a method of sustainable energy production.
Hydroelectricity is the biggest hydropower application. Hydroelectricity generates about 15% of global electricity and provides at least 50% of the total electricity supply for more than 35 countries.
Hydroelectric power facilities capture energy in a variety of ways. A dam and a reservoir are examples of one type. The water in the reservoir can be used to generate electricity on demand by flowing through channels that connect the dam and the reservoir. Water spins a turbine, which is linked to a generator that generates electricity.
Hydropower energy generation capacity in Africa peaked at 37.2 gigawatts (GW) in 2020. Ethiopia recorded the highest installed generation capacity of about 4GW in 2020 from 3.8GW in 2019.
Solar power is energy from the sun that is converted into thermal or electrical energy. Solar energy is the cleanest and most abundant renewable energy source available and the US has some of the richest solar resources in the world. Solar technologies can harness this energy for a variety of uses, including generating electricity, providing light or a comfortable interior environment, and heating water for domestic, commercial or industrial use.
Solar energy generation capacity in Africa peaked at 10.6GW in 2020. South Africa recorded the highest installed generation capacity of about 6GW in 2020 from 4.9GW in 2019. Nigeria’s solar energy generation capacity peaked at 28 megawatts (MW) in 2020.
The use of wind turbines to generate electricity is known as wind power or wind energy. Sails, windmills, and wind pumps have all harnessed wind power in the past. Wind energy is a popular, renewable energy source that has a far lower environmental impact than burning fossil fuels. Many individual wind turbines are connected to the electric power transmission network to form wind farms.
Wind generated approximately 1800 terawatts-hour (TWh) of electricity in 2021, accounting for over 6% of global electricity.
Wind energy generation capacity in Africa peaked at 6.4GW in 2019 and 2020. South Africa recorded the highest installed generation capacity of about 2.6GW in 2020.
Geothermal energy is heat within the earth. The word “geothermal’ comes from the Greek words geo (earth) and therme (heat). Geothermal energy is a renewable energy source because heat is continuously produced inside the earth. Geothermal energy is created by the slow disintegration of radioactive particles in the earth’s core, a process that occurs in all rocks.
Geothermal energy generation capacity in Africa peaked at 831 MW in 2019 and 2020. Kenya recorded the highest installed generation capacity estimated to be about 824 MW in 2019 and 2020.