The African continent is facing substantial energy challenges. Even though the grid-based power generation capacity in Africa has increased, electricity-generating capacity is still low.
Things are expected to be more challenging in the future since the energy demand of Africa is set to increase by 600% in the year 2040.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that the electricity generating capacity will need to increase at a slightly higher pace in order to supply sufficient electricity.
A potential clean energy technology that could provide electricity supply at scale is wind energy. The advancements in the technology have contributed to its cost reduction.
Not many African countries have considered carrying out wind power projects. The reason for this could be because of a number of factors such as the technology being very new and also lack of government commitment to attract investments to the sector.
Wind energy has been the fastest-growing energy technology since the 1990s. Eighty-five percent of the total wind capacity is installed in ten countries in Asia, North America, Europe, and Latin America.
In East Africa, Kenya has been particularly successful at attracting renewable and wind energy investments such as the 310MW Lake Turkana Wind Power (LTWP) project, the largest wind farm on the continent. LTWP is also the largest private investment in the country and is located on the south-east side of Lake Turkana in Marsabit County.
Additionally, a number of other large-scale wind power projects are under development, Including Kipeto (100 MW), Isiolo (100 MW), Meru (60 MW), Ngong (51 MW) and the Baharini Electra Wind Farm project in Lamu (90 MW).
There is potential for wind power in Africa, estimated to be about 109,000MW, with the best wind located in the coastal regions. The Horn of Africa, eastern Kenya, parts of West and Central Africa bordering on the Sahara and parts shows high-quality wind resources.
Somalia is considered to have the highest onshore potential, followed by Sudan, Libya, Mauritania, Egypt, Madagascar, and Kenya.
To encourage higher usage of wind energy in Africa, there is a major need to provide further extensions to grid infrastructure. Moreover, the existence of wind energy policies will contribute significantly to the increase in wind power generation
Developed countries have been able to conduct studies of their wind potential offshore sources, and have developed them. It is high time for African countries to follow the same approach.
Having well-designed national supportive policies and incentives to guide the development and use of renewable energy resources is important, although not sufficient to promote wind energy development in Africa.
Governments also need to provide financial incentive and financing in order to attract potential investors. Availability of Supportive Energy Policies and Fiscal policies are also important in stimulating the transition to developing wind energy. However, governments also need to boost the demand for energy so that the idea of investing in wind energy remains attractive.
More feasibility studies also need to be conducted as well invests in grid expansion, to stimulate the development of wind power projects in different parts of the country.
Small Scale development in less economically powerful regions or those planning projects in countries considered risky by private sector commercial banks, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) or the World Bank’s Global Environment Facility provides the needed funding. At the moment the World Bank is also working with the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) to provide technical assistance to develop projects ready for investment by renewable energy developers.
Let it not be forgotten that private developers are very essential in mobilizing funds to meet the nation’s demand for electricity, and their involvement has complemented publicly owned projects, as such is the case of Kenya.