Global energy demand has always been a thorny issue which has hindered the economic development in Africa and part of Asia and South America in the last three decades. The energy crisis especially in Africa has seen more than 645 million persons unable to have access to electricity. A 2016 KPMG Africa report which gave a damning verdict about the serious energy crisis in Africa stated emphatically: “At least 30 countries in Africa experience daily electricity outages which can result in an annual loss of anywhere between 5% of GDP in countries like Uganda and Malawi, and 2% and 5% of GDP in Tanzania and Kenya”
The good news however, is that there are several options available for the power problem in Africa to be solved. These options are basically dependent on the free gift of nature and are often referred to as renewable energies. Renewable energy solutions are found literally in the air, ocean, sun, deep underground and in waste products. One major advantage that comes with using renewable energy is the fact that it helps the environment since its green energy and it’s absolutely clean and devoid of CO2
In this article, we shall be looking at Six of these options which can be utilized in solving the energy crisis in Africa.
Biofuel is a fuel gotten from natural sources. They are available in solid, liquid and gaseous state, and are most times derived from renewable plants and animal materials. Africa has large quantity of Biofuel that are been wasted and the sooner these wastes are turned to renewable energy, the better the energy crisis can be arrested. Wood is one of the most efficient sources of Biofuel in Africa, and in Nigeria and most Sub-Saharan Africa, the possibility of utilizing these woods as a means of powering our turbines cannot be ruled out. Wood chips, saw dust and enormous quantity of plant and animal waste piling up in major streets all over Africa can be deployed and converted to green and affordable energy.
Biomass is simply fuel gotten from plant and animals which are used in power plants for the generation of renewable energy. Biomass actually refers to any organic matter coming from recently living plants or animals. Amazingly, plants that is grown purposely for biomass usage help to remove substantial quantity of CO2 from the atmosphere, thus creating a cleaner environment. One significant advantage of biomass is that its usage as a fuel for creating renewable energy helps to reduce the dependence on fossil fuels for residential, industrial and agricultural needs.
Biomass is readily available and can be produced as renewable resources in large quantities. Coal driven turbines for example can be converted to biomass driven turbines with little adjustments, and this can help create not only jobs for the vast unemployed youths in Africa, but also raise the energy profile by few mega watts of electricity.
Geothermal as the name imply is energy gotten directly from the heat of the earth. It is the thermal energy generated and stored in the earth. The earth contains enormous amount of energy which are located close to the surface or from heated rocks. These resources are utilized by Geothermal driven turbines to generate clean, sustainable and CO2 free energy. Though this form of renewable energy is only available at a small scale, the possibility of commercializing the vat energy in the earth core can be exploited in Africa, where there are mountainous areas and arid environment especially in North, East and part of West Africa. Geothermal energy find usefulness in small and medium scale manufacturing plants, heating of office buildings and
Hydropower is energy generated from water. The most common form of hydropower can be found is the one involving building of dams to house vast quantity of water in a reservoir setting, where the water is released and flows downstream to the turbine to produce energy. This process is often referred to as “pump-storage” hydropower, where water is channeled between the lower and upper reservoir and dam to help with power generation especially during peak period.
The advantage of Hydropower for of renewable energy production is that they contribute massively to the total energy demand in a country. There are powerful hydropower turbines that can generate up to 150MW. Clusters of villages can also utilize the renewable energy potential in flowing streams, by building small sized hydroelectric systems around such streams.
This form of renewable energy source is one of the most popular worldwide due to the fact that lots of countries are utilizing its vast potential to boost energy demand. Solar energy is simply the energy derived from the sun. What usually happens is that an equipment known as Solar PV (Photovoltaic) panel taps the energy from the sun and converts this sunlight into electricity. There is also a solar Inverter attached to the Solar Energy system. The Solar Inverter simply takes DC electricity from the solar array and uses it to create AC power. These inverters are the nucleus of the Solar Energy system.
There is vast untapped power in the wind that is not been utilized in Africa. The wind can be classified as a renewable energy based on the fact that it can be easily renewed and it is environmentally friendly. Wind flow can be easily harnessed via wind turbines and converted into electricity. This form of energy form is common at a small scale, but can be utilized at a larger scale as well. On a small scale, windmills are used to pump water for irrigation purposes.
Commercially driven wind powered turbines which can produce up to 1MW of electricity are available in few countries to meet the renewable energy needs of most industries and commercial businesses which are tied to the system. This form of renewable energy is usually deployed as supplementary sources to main energy sources.