The most recent sustainable developments around Africa

Solar energy, like other types of energy, can be harnessed and used to create electricity. It is free and completely natural, so it is considered a clean energy source. Over the years, man has continued to develop ways of harnessing this vital resource and convert it to usable energy. Wind energy is also a
form of solar energy.
Other sources of power such as coal and natural gas require water to generate power – a scarce commodity in many parts of Africa. Solar panels do not require this, nor do they require an adequate
power grid, making them suited to African conditions.
Africa’s population is set to double to approximately two billion by 2050; the demand for power will only continue to grow. With this in mind, we take a look at completed projects – and some currently underway in Africa.
Lake Turkana Wind Power Project (Kenya)
The Lake Turkana Wind Power Project (LTWP) aims to provide 300MW of reliable, low cost wind power to Kenya’s national grid.
This is equivalent to about 20% of Kenya’s current installed electricity generating capacity.
By late last year, the LTWP team had completed a complex financingpackage which entailed the signing of an agreement between the Kenyan government, national network operator the Kenya Electricity Transmission
Company Ltd (Ketraco), and the African Development Bank (AfDB).
The project is of significant strategic benefit to Kenya.
It is an estimated KES76 billion (€623 million, R969 billion) project which will make it the largest private investment in Kenyan history – as well as Africa’s largest wind farm.
The LTWP team hopes to begin generating power as early as 2017.
The wind farm site is expected to cover 40,000 acres (162km2) of desert. It will be located in the Loyangalani district, in northeast Kenya.
The project will comprise 365 wind turbines (each with a capacity of 850kW),the associated overhead electric grid collection system, and a high voltage substation. It will also include upgrading of the existing road from Laisamis to the wind farm, a distance of 204km, as well as an access road network in and around the site for construction, operations and maintenance.
Ketraco, with concessional funding from the Spanish Government, is constructing a double circuit 400kv,
428km transmission line to deliver the LTWP electricity, along with power from other future plants, to the national grid.
The power produced will be bought at a fixed price by Kenya Power (KPLC) over a 20-year period, in accordance with the signed Power Purchase Agreement (PPA).
The Ashegoda, Adama I and Adama II wind farms (Ethiopia)
The 120 MW Ashegoda wind farm in Ethiopia officially went live late in 2013. It is located about 18km outside the city of Mekelle in Tigray state. It consists of 84 high-tech turbines and is expected to produce around 400 million kWh a year.
The project,announced in 2008, has been constructed over the last few years in stages.
When the first stage of the wind farm went live, it was the first of its kind in Ethiopia.
This project was funded by the French bank BNP Paribas, the French Development Agency (ADF), and the
Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation (EEPCo). EEPCo has been responsible for managing the site.
Ashegoda is the second windiest place in Ethiopia, after Adama (Nazreth) – with average annual wind speeds of 8.5 m/s and 9.4 m/ , respectively (at a height of 40m above ground level).
Two smaller wind farms were also built near Adama, south-east of Addis Ababa, with capacity of 51MW each.
Adama I. The Adama I wind power plant was inaugurated on 1 December, 2012. The total cost of this project was $117 million (R1. 3 billion). The Chinese government funded 85% of the project while the balance was provided by the Ethiopian government. The project comprises 34 towers, each generating
1.5 MW.
Adama II.Adama II is an extension of the Adama I wind farm. Adama II is currently under construction and is expected to be completed in June this year. The generating capacity for this plant is 153MW. The project’s estimated cost is $340 million (R4 billion)
An Ethiopian business portal states that the project is connected to a 230 kV grid with 13km of transmission via the Koka substation. The substation is close to the major industrial centres of Adama,
Mojo, Debre Zeit, Dukem and Addis Ababa.
Ethiopia has so far managed to generate a total of 171MW of power from the Adama and Ashegoda wind farms. The two farms have installed capacity of 51MW and 120MW respectively. When Adama II starts
generating power in its full capacity it is expected to take the country’s wind power generation to a total of 324MW, according to 2merkato.com.
The Nzema solar photovoltaic project (Ghana)
The Nzema solar photovoltaic plant is under construction, scheduled for completion in October 2016.
The 155MW PV plant will comprise more than 630,000 individual panels. Its output should be enough to power 100,000 Ghanaian homes, covering182 hectares in the Western region of the country.
Nzema is expected to create 200 permanent jobs for Ghanaians. More reliable power thanks to the plant could create 2,100 more jobs throughout the economy, it is estimated.
Ventures-Africa.com said the project will add 5.5% to Ghana’s current total electricity generation capacity.
Says the website: “It will get the country 20% of the way to the 2020 goal set by the country’s 2011 Renewable Energy Act – to source 10% of its total energy from renewable sources.”
Ghana wants to increase its electricity generation from 2,846MW to 5,000MW by 2016.
Mere Power Nzema Limited (MPNL), a subsidiary of UK-based renewable energy consortium Mere Power UK and Blue Energy, will oversee the estimated $400 million (R4.7 billion) project.
Ventures-Africa.com says when sunlight strikes a photovoltaic panel, it generates direct current (DC) electricity, which is then converted into alternating current (AC) for transmission by an inverter.
Photovoltaics are cheaper and more flexible than concentrated solar power, an alternate technique that requires an array of mirrors and a turbine. Photovoltaics also not require a source of water, and can
even generate electricity on cloudy days.
A disadvantage of the photovoltaic method is that the power captured cannot yet be stored economically. Since Ghana is short of power, however, the electricity generated will be injected directly into the grid, making this less of an issue, it says.
The Kathu Solar Park and Redstone Solar Thermal Power
South Africa’s Department of Energy had recently announced that two new concentrating solar power (CSP) plants will be built in SA’s Northern Cape.
The Kathu Solar Park and Redstone Thermal Power project will both have 100MW capacity. They are part of the third round of the SA government’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme
(REIPPPP).
Backing the Kathu project is a consortium led by GDF SUEZ. The consortium consists of the Sishen Iron Ore Company Community Development Trust, Investec Bank, Lereko Metier and the Public Investment Corporation.
The Redstone Solar Thermal Power Project will be located near Postmasburg in the Northern Cape Province. It will be adjacent to the 75MW Lesedi and 96MW Jasper photovoltaic (PV) solar power projects.
“Together, the three projects will deliver 271MW of peak generation, enough to power more than 350,000
South African homes,” says Mary Grikas vice president of communications at SolarReserve.
She adds that the Redstone project brings additional value to SA because of“the introduction of SolarReserve’s world-leading molten salt energy storage technology — delivering the lowestpriced electricity from Concentrating Solar Power in the country to date.”
This plant is expected to produce 480,000MW annually. Furthermore, it is expected to power more than 200,000 homes during peak demand, day and night.
The Redstone project has the support of SolarReserve, an international company for Water and Power projects (ACWA Power) and a Saudi water and power developer.
www.ltwp.co.ke; www.ventures-africa.com; www.pv-magazine.com; www.cleantechnica.com; www.eepco.gov.et ;www.homestrings.com;
SolarReserve: Tel +27 11 582 6880;www.SolarReserve.com
Brief explanations on the various power sources:
Photovoltaics (PV) – a technology that converts sunlight into electricity. A photovoltaic system comprises solar panels that are composed of a number of solar cells, to supply power that is usable (electricity).
Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) technologies – use mirrors to focus the sun’s light energy and convert
it into heat to create steam to drive turbines that generate electrical power.
Wind power –produced using wind generators which harness the kinetic energy of wind. This type of energy production has gained wide popularity.