In Africa, the potential for solar energy is immense. The continent is, in fact, is the brightest in the world. Its 30.37 million km² receive a solar irradiance equal to or greater than 2,000 kWh/ (m2 year).
In the management of the energy resources, increasing the production of solar energy and other forms of renewable energy should be the top priority for policymakers, if they are keen to foster the African power transition towards a more prosperous and sustainable future. The African economies have been resilient. The growth of the real output has increased by 3.6% in 2017 and will reach 4.1% between 2018 and 2019 (African Economic Outlook 2018). Needless to say, when there is a certain growth in the economy of a country, inevitably there is also a rising demand for energy. And this is what is happening to Africa. During 2017, energy consumption increased by 2.9% and according to IRENA, the electricity demand should triple by 2030.
These numbers speak clearly: the levels of industrialization and productivity are improving in Africa. The management of renewable resources is becoming increasingly important as it encourages economic development. So currently, this is a real challenge for the “Continent of the Sun“. Africa is endowed with significant renewable resources of all forms: biomass, geothermal, hydroelectric, solar or wind. This great energetic wealth could change the face of Africa forever. In fact, the diversification of energy sources increases the power generation capacity; the energetic shift would then resolve two of the Achilles’ heels in the energy landscape: satisfying the rising demand as well as replacing the poor-quality supply networks with reliable and safe energy supply.
600 million Africans still live in the dark and, for approximately 730 million people, the most common form of supply is that of biomass (IEA, 2014). But the change could be just around the corner. The renewable energy sector recorded an increase of 13% over the last year. Solar energy, instead, grows at 19%. McKinsey’s research shows that the capacity for energy production in Africa is 1.2 terawatts in total. Therefore, only solar energy, which Africa has in abundance, can supply around 10 terawatts of new energy.
The African continent is increasingly turning towards the solar photovoltaic (PV) sector to guarantee a safe and sustainable energy source both on and off-grid. In addition, it is a very economical solution with a fairly competitive cost structure. According to Irena Report, solar PV module prices have fallen rapidly since the end of 2009, to between USD 0.52 and USD 0.72/watt in 2015. At the same time, the balance of system costs also has declined. As a result, the global weighted average cost of utility-scale solar PV fell by 62% between 2009 and 2015 and could decline by 57% from 2015 levels by 2025. Globally, new capacity additions of solar PV have increased six-fold from around 8 gigawatts in 2009 to around 47 GW in 2015. Also, the realization time of a photovoltaic project and its implementations are shorter than to others. Solar PV is a highly modular solution, both on-grid and off-grid. It can provide lighting and electricity to a single home off-grid, can be incorporated into mini-grids that can scale from several kilowatts (kW) to many MW, and at utility-scale can achieve higher economies of scale.
The solar photovoltaic technology represents a realistic solution for the 40% of Africans living in rural areas, especially in sub-Saharan areas, and who do not have access to electricity. This specific segment of the population experiences various blackouts and failures of the deployment network and can live without electricity during whole days. The mini-network and off-grid projects do not require connection to a centralized or national transmission and distribution network and are therefore ideal for providing energy to those remote communities away from the existing transmission lines. Solar technologies and, in general, green technologies can promote a more inclusive economic development.
Countries with low electrification rates have lower GDP per capita and are less developed. The basic rationale is that greater access to energy leads to improvements in health care, education, life expectancy, and economic opportunities.
Trace Software International has headquarters in Morocco and operated throughout the African continent thanks to resellers and partners. The company is helping companies to implement a more strategic technologic approach in their processes in order to get the best benefits out of their asset. In the solar industry, archelios™ suite, the photovoltaic software solutions to manage the entirety of a complete solar project, has helped enterprises to make relevant steps towards a greener future for Africa.
In accordance with the Declaration of Paris during the International Solar Alliance of the 30th November 2015, the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, takes over the reins of the energy revolution in the country. The ambitious goal is to achieve the production of 100 GW of solar energy by 2022, out of a total of 175 GW that the country plans to produce from renewable sources.
The data speak clearly. The Indian market is not only flourishing. India is competing to become a leader in the solar market and overcome China and the US. There is no doubt for the head of the Indian government. The main aim is to make solar energy one of the main sources of energy production in the near future.
According to IHS Markit, with 11 GW, India is destined to become the second largest solar photovoltaic market in 2018, usurping the United States. The global demand reaches 113 GW this year and according to the same forecast, the fourth quarter will be the largest in the history for the installations, with 34 GW expected.
2017 was also a fairly important year for the photovoltaic industry with an addition of 5525.98 MW in terms of photovoltaic energy production capacity.
This is a result of the government chaired by Narendra Modi, which shows that not only is there a moral compromise with what was promised at the Paris Climate Change Conference in 2015, but real efforts to ensure a green future to the country.
In fact, the country’s commitments have also been renewed at the first summit of the International Solar Alliance held in New Delhi in March 2018. The event brings together 121 countries engaged in the debate for the promotion and exchange of technologies for solar energy production.
India is accelerating the development of projects in the renewable energy sector, to provide affordable, reliable and clean energy to its 1.3 billion people. The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) stated that the country generated 12,973.6 kWh from solar power, in the financial year 2017-2018.
To achieve this, a series of strategic actions have been lately adopted: incentives based on energy generation, capital and interest subsidies, subsidized loans and tax incentives, regulations regarding the quality of the installations.
More in details:
– The government has issued guidelines for the supply of solar and wind energy through competitive auctions and has extended the renewable purchase obligation (RPO) until 2018-19, also notifying the standards for the implementation of the plants PV.
– The Solar Photovoltaics, Systems, Devices and Components Goods (Requirements for Compulsory Registration) Order was issued in September 2017. It is a regulation that sets the minimum standards to guarantee the quality of photovoltaic instruments in the Indian market, including the aspects of manufacturing, storage, sales, distribution.
– To encourage domestic production, the MNRE provides a series of incentives that also include national aid for the production of the solar system.
These are the necessary measures to reach the ambitious goal of 175 GW, set by 2022. Poor quality of installations may pose serious challenges in the future. For example, improperly sized glands can allow water in or a broken cable could melt the roof, not to talk about the system performance degradation issues.
Trace Software International can help with the management of the entire photovoltaic installation thanks to the archelios™ suite. This software solution enables feasibility study, bankability, 3D design, to the compliance and calculation notes, right up to the operation and maintenance management.
Solar energy offers a clean, climate-friendly energy resource that is abundant and inexhaustible for humanity. Solar energy is the energy associated with solar radiation and it is the primary source of energy on Earth. Solar energy is what reaches the Earth in the form of electromagnetic radiation from the Sun, where it is generated by a process of natural nuclear fusion that can reach 15 million degrees centigrade.
The sun has produced energy for billions of years. This energy travels to the earth in the form of rays. The sun’s rays transmit two main forms of energy:
– light energy, in the form of photons, which can be converted into electrical energy using certain materials that release electrons in a natural way when exposed to light. This phenomenon, known as “photovoltaic effect”, is the basis of all solar energy systems.
– thermal energy, or heat, which we have always used to heat our homes and greenhouses, for example.
How does the transformation of solar energy into photovoltaic energy happen?
The term photovoltaic derives from the “phos“, which means light and “Volt” from the name of the Italian scientist Alessandro Volta, inventor of the pile. The sun is a form of clean and renewable energy, which is converted into electricity without any combustion process.
Solar panels are predominantly made of materials that are known to have the property of naturally converting sunlight into electrical energy.
These materials are known as semiconductors. The production of electricity using the sun is obtained thanks to the reverse photoelectric effect of the junction, which manifests itself in the semiconductor.
When sunlight hits these semiconductors, they release free electrons to move, which are channeled through the device and produce an electric current.
Why then install a photovoltaic solar system?
The decision to self-produce clean electricity through solar irradiation has over time become an option not only convenient and responsible, but increasingly economical and intelligent.
The photovoltaic installations, in fact, concurrently allow the cutting of energy costs, energy self-sufficiency and a lower impact of the variations linked to the individual tariffs of energy distributors. The convenience of a photovoltaic solar system depends, in any case, on several factors including geographic positioning, compatibility with local conditions such as local temperature and inclination of photovoltaic modules or incentives policies.
Installing a photovoltaic solar system today can represent a way to avoid the insecurity of the fluctuations in energy prices. The primary energy source, the sun, has no supply costs and is available to an almost infinite extent.
With a 30% rate of growth expected in Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, and France, the PV market in Europe is blooming. The causes are not to be found in incentive policies but rather in lowering costs and technological innovations.
The archelios™ suite is the Trace Software International software solution to conceive the entire photovoltaic installation. This cutting-edge software provides solar professionals with innovative and powerful features to improve the performance of their photovoltaic project as it permits to work on common data and at the utmost accuracy. From feasibility study, 3D simulation, electrical sizing to PV monitoring, this is a comprehensive software solution.
The access to energy is a strategic priority in all regions of the world. Without energy, countries cannot power their economies.
Unfortunately, the current situation is not very positive. In fact, about 1.2 billion people in the world still experience energy poverty with an 80% concentration in rural areas. The lack of access to reliable forms of energy is an obstacle to achieving the Millennium Development Goals. and therefore a brake on harmonious human and economic development.
What is the current situation in Africa?
Unfortunately, some regions of the country, especially sub-Saharan areas, are struggling to access to reliable energy and experience at least 20 hours of power outages a month as stated by the World Bank Managing Director and Chief Operating Officer Sri Mulyani Indrawati at the International Student Energy Summit in Bali, Indonesia, on June 10, 2015.
What hinders sub-Saharan Africa from a full access to reliable energy? There are many critical factors which are holding Africa back. Inadequate infrastructure remains a major obstacle towards Africa achieving its full economic growth potential, followed by the lack appropriate and comprehensive institutional framework. Limited financing also hampers the development of many regions. The projects in the renewable energy sector require massive investments, whose value varies between $ 33.4 billion to $ 63 billion. The situation in Africa is different and in the last 10 years, the average annual spending has not exceeded $ 12 billion. Outdated business model is another aspect to take into account together with the high cost of renewable energy technology.
However, the situation in North Africa appears much more promising and dynamic. Large investments in renewable energy projects have been able to mobilize the sector in Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, and Egypt. Solar energy is, in fact, an obvious solution for the 600 million Africans living without electricity.
Solar energy is a great emerging opportunity, with a high potential and great ability to create new business opportunities. Amongst the most auspicious projects, it is possible to consider the huge solar park in the Sahara which could soon export electricity to Europe if the Tunisian government approves the energy company’s request to build it. The 4.5GW mega-project designed by TuNur would lead electricity to Malta, Italy, and France using submarine cables.
It is also expected to complete the construction of Noor Ouarzazate in Morocco – the largest solar plant in the world by the end of this year and for a total cost of $9 billion.
In this scenario, a key role is played by alliances between public bodies and private actors (Public-Private Partnerships). Private organizations can apply their expertise and experience to deliver efficient and cost-effective infrastructure and services. But from the other side transparent and quick political decisions are crucial for the correct management and implementation of a PPP.
Mustapha Bakkoury, chairman of the board of Morocco’s Solar Energy Agency, affirms that “believing that is feasible is not enough”, underlining the attitude of skepticism that still characterizes some governments in some African countries.
Where does Trace Software stand? Exciting initiatives have been made in the renewable energy sector. Stay tuned for the latest updates.
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