African PV market could grow by up to 30 GW by 2030, report says

The German Solar Association (BSW-Solar) and the Becquerel Institute released the Solarize Africa study at leading solar trade event Intersolar Europe 2019, which took place in Germany from 14 to 17 May 2019, focusing on the analysis of the solar markets in ten African countries.

“The solar potential in Africa is large, as is Africa’s energy demand, and we are optimistic about many of the markets we analyzed,” says David Wedepohl, Managing Director of BSW-Solar.

However, only relatively few photovoltaic systems have been installed so far. At the moment, the capacity of all solar power systems on the entire African continent is at around 5 gigawatts – just over one percent of the total global installed solar power capacity.

“We estimate we would need about 2,000 TWh Solar PV to fully decarbonize the energy consumption on the continent by 2040,” says Wedepohl. With slightly more than 1 GW installed in 2018, the African PV market could grow by up to 30 GW by the end of the next decade.”

In order to cover the growing energy demand as sustainably and inexpensively as possible, massive photovoltaic expansion is necessary. How attractive potential solar markets are for investments does not depend primarily on solar radiation; local conditions, market access for foreign investors and political stability are more decisive factors.

The study also identifies outdated and inadequate grid infrastructures in many of the regions investigated as a major obstacle to greater photovoltaic expansion.

“In only partially electrified countries, off-grid solar and storage power solutions can sometimes enable a lower-cost electrification than the expansion of electricity grids,” says Gaëtan Masson, Managing Director of the Becquerel Institute.

Government subsidy programs and international organizations support the expansion of photovoltaics in many places – but they cannot achieve nationwide electrification.

“Smart business models are needed in order for photovoltaics to become mainstream in Africa. Even those who cannot pay for their photovoltaic system upfront must be able to benefit from solar power generation”, says Wedepohl.

Models in which participation in a system of clean solar power supply can be easily paid for in small amounts via an app can also pave the way for photovoltaics in rural regions.

The markets analyzed in the study include Algeria, Angola, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Morocco, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa and Tanzania.

The deployment of solar PV is mainly driven by Egypt (660 MW), Morocco (606 MW) and Algeria (519 MW) in Northern Africa and by Lesotho (79 MW) and South-Africa (1,815 MW) in Southern Africa.

Figure 4: Total PV installed capacity – Top 10 in Africa. Source:  © Becquerel Institute et al.

Countries which are more stable, both politically and economically, such as Botswana, Mauritius, Morocco, Rwanda and South-Africa seem also the most attractive for PV.

Figure 17: African countries scoring for PV attractiveness. Source: © Becquerel Institute.

The study was supported by  Intersolar Europe’s organizer Solar Promotion GmbH and FWTM Freiburg Wirtschaft Touristik und Messe GmbH & Co.KG and it can be downloaded for free here on Becquerel Institute website.

Source: News release by Bundesverband Solarwirtschaft e.V. (BSW-Solar). Photo Credit: Alan Cordova via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).