Renewables are re-energized to be part of the growing energy supply as key solution to fighting climate change at global scale. China is already leading in this new energy revolution.
In the Book ‘Energy Quest’ by Daniel Yergin, he explains how China became the leading example in Renewables, overtaking Europe. This was catalyzed by the Renewable Energy Law of 2005 and subsequently by the Medium and Long-term Development Plan for Renewable Energy in 2007.
China’s heavy industry is consuming more electricity surpassing its availability. China made the decision to accelerate new and renewable technologies. Pollution also being a factor necessitated the adoption of clean energies. Hydropower is far the largest form of renewables in China, though wind and solar is catching up with it. China at the moment has the biggest market for wind and is the biggest manufacturer for solar power cells.
Companies and Investors now see renewables as a large and growing part of the huge global energy market. According to information posted by Stratfor,Facebook has stated recently that it will source 100% of its electricity consumption from renewables by 2020.Apple and Google already power all their operations using renewable electricity. There are also more companies sourcing for renewables in other countries before setting their operations, this is because of having already committed to green electricity or emission reduction targets.
In the long run there is possibility that these companies could become Independent Power Producers (IPPs) in renewable energies. They may construct their own wind or solar farms and provide transmission services. Why the idea of renewables? renewables represent energy sources that are environmentally friendly. They include Wind, Sunlight, Biofuels, Biomass, geothermal and Hydropower. Others sources include Garbage to energy.
In the Horn of Africa, Ethiopia has abundant renewable energy resources. Presently, 90% of the installed generation capacity is from hydropower.About 8% and 2% are from wind and thermal sources respectively. The Government of Ethiopia is building the Grand Renaissance Dam which is expected to be the largest Dam in Africa. The plant is expected to generate about 645OMW.However, the Hydro dominated systems is affected by constant drought and the government of Ethiopia is diversifying to other mixes such as solar, wind and geothermal. Ethiopia has also invested in a new waste to energy plant (The Reppie project) that will revolutionize the way Ethiopia deals with waste. It is also going to generate 25MW of electricity. The project is under construction under the consortium of international companies mainly Cambridge industries (Singapore), China National Electric Engineering and Ramboll. (Denmark).The project is expected to be operational in 2019.
Ethiopia and Kenya have quite some similarities when it comes to renewable energy. The energy sector has opened up for private investments on large scale utility projects, although in Kenya the situation has been therefor a long period of time. Ethiopia energy sector for a long time has been in the hands of the government. It begun opening up in 2017 when the government ofEthiopia signed its first Independent Power Production Agreement with Corbetti Geothermal. However, the government of Ethiopia still maintains a tight control over the energy sector. Ethiopia at the moment does not have the key policy mechanisms that determine the price at which independent Power Producers cans ell power back to the grid.
This is counter-productive in the long run since it lowers the Country’s ability to attract financing. Investors require policies that provide profit predictability. Around the world, 128 countries already have such polices.
Kenya Renewable Energy is estimated to make up 80%of its energy mix. They include geothermal and Hydropower. A larger share of Kenya’s expansion of the energy sector in the next coming years shall be made by private investors. This is because the government supports private investments including in the renewable energy sector. This has been highlighted in the country’s Least Cost Energy Development Plan.
In Kenya, The Ministry of Energy formulates policy and sets strategic direction, The Energy Regulatory Commission reviews tariffs, drafts and implements regulations and issues permits, Rural Electrification Authority(REA) implements rural electrification projects, Kenya Electricity GeneratingCompany generates a majority of electric power, Kenya Electricity TransmissionCompany is responsible for the construction and operating of transmission lines and the Kenya Power Lightning Company is responsible for the transmission and distribution of power.
In Somalia, power for the most time is generated through diesel powered generators which is provided by small Independent Power Producer(IPP, s) of which consumers pay up $1.5 per Kwhs, making it very expensive globally.In Kenya, for example consumers pay between $0.01 and 0.12 per Kwhs which is moderately cheaper. At the moment the cost of technology for renewables such as solar has gone down substantially and therefore makes it very attractive compared to the use of fossil fuels to generate power. The challenges of deploying renewable technologies in Somalia is the lack of technical capacity, otherwise the situation presents an opportunity to create green jobs and also bring the cost of electricity much lower, which also has an impact on the economy.
Somalia already has launched its solar and wind powered plant, situated in the north eastern part of the country and is producing 3.5MW of energy. The project is being run by the National Electric Company. The project is managed by one engineer, which again is a pointer to the lack of technical capacity.
A lot of effort needs to be put towards oversight and planning since there are other new players that are interested in investing in Somalia’s energy sector. Regulatory factors play an important role in promoting certainty in the deployment of energy. One of the regulatory mechanisms that the Ministry of Energy in Somalia could adopt is the one that ensures those who win bids are committed to project delivery. If an Independent Power Producer is guided and monitored by coordinating energy agencies, then it gives pressure to the IPP to complete a project.
Just like in neighboring Kenya, IPPs that win bids to develop renewable energy must be guided and monitored by consortium of stakeholders.This could include the Ministries of Energy and Petroleum together with other institutions created to oversee the Energy Sector. This is especially important when connecting several IPP’s sources of Renewable energy to the power grid.For Somalia, going into the future the Ministry of Energy should avoid the situation whereby the IPP is producing power and it is not connecting to an established national grid.
The Federal government of Somalia should come up with a policy that considers high pre-qualification requirements leading to high upfront costs, so that the number of IPP’s bidding reduces, allowing for thoseIPP’s that have large market share and also huge financial muscle to invest in the energy sector. However, the Ministry needs to carefully balance oversight with local context and also planning in order to achieve optimum management of the energy sector and accomplish actual needs for power for the people of Somalia.
 Daniel Yergin (2011),Energy Security and the Remaking of the Modern World; The Penguin Press
 Kenya’s Least Coast Power Development Plan-2017-2035
 International Labor organization 2016 Report: Scoping study for a renewable energy skills development Public Private Development Partnership (PPDP) in Somalia