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World Bank : Africa to lead in solar energy

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World Bank : Africa to lead in solar energy

Solar energy is projected to overtake coal as the world’s most available energy source by 2027. In this regard, African countries are projected as the key drivers.

Industry and government working together

Demetrios Papathanasiou of the World Bank notes that many developing countries have some of the best solar and wind resources in the world. Papathanasiou is optimistic that African countries will be able to harness advances in solar energy and make spectacular progress.

The World Bank, in its most recent update of its energy report, notes that of the nearly 675 million people still without electricity in the world, 80 % live in sub-Saharan Africa. The report states that solar mini-grids could provide 380 million people with quality, uninterrupted electricity by 2030.

« This will only be possible if governments and industry work together to reduce costs and overcome financing barriers, including technological, policy, and regulatory risks, as well as uncertainty about customers’ ability to pay », the financial body said.

Solar power is set to overtake coal as the world’s most available source of energy within the next three years. Along with wind power, solar energy has become the cheapest way to meet growing electricity demand.

Solar energy : Source of multiple benefits

The World Bank confirms that solar energy is a game changer when it comes to climate change and access to energy. According to the World Bank’s Global Head of Energy, Demetrios Papathanasiou, many developing countries have some of the best solar and wind resources in the world. This includes the challenge of securing the financing needed to increase investment in solar power.

The technology exists to bring cheap, clean solar power to millions of people who still live without electricity. The international community must step up its support to help governments :

  • Prepare transition plans.
  • Strengthen the institutions that are the backbone of the electricity sector.
  • Prepare initial projects.
  • Mitigate the risks that can keep costs out of reach.

Breaking the barriers to solar energy

Despite its promise, solar energy’s journey into the mainstream is slow and difficult. It takes decades to overcome reluctance to adopt new technologies. As a result, many countries are stuck with high-carbon energy. As a result, these countries are spending up to six times more to subsidize fossil fuel consumption than their commitments under the Paris Agreement to combat climate change.

The World Bank emphasizes that appropriate policies and regulations can help lower the cost of solar energy development, attract cheaper financing, and encourage private investment. Official development assistance must also be increased, and multilateral development institutions, including the World Bank, must do more.

Pushing back the frontiers of solar energy

According to the World Bank, the development of solar energy can only be transformative if the fundamentals of the electricity system, such as transmission lines and institutions, are in place to support the transition to clean energy. Power grids, utilities, and the government institutions that support them require enormous transformation and investment in many developing countries in Africa.

World Bank experts mentioned that investment in electricity transmission and distribution networks has been insufficient since the financial crisis and the onset of the pandemic. With the accelerated growth of solar energy, more energy will need to be stored to ensure a constant supply of energy.

The World Bank warns that most energy storage systems developed to date may not be suitable for the unique conditions of developing countries, and calls for significant action in the future. « It is increasingly clear that the global deployment of renewable energy depends on the development of all forms of storage and investment in resilient power grids. This is the frontier that must be crossed to achieve universal access to clean energy by 2030 », the international institution.

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