Affordable electricity

US Power Africa sets ambitious 2030 targets for power generation across the continent

US Power Africa sets ambitious 2030 targets for power generation across the continent

By | Affordable electricity, Developing Countries, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria | One Comment

The Power Africa initiative set up by the US Agency for International Development has recently published its ‘Transmission Roadmap to 2030‘, setting out ambitious targets and plans in order to reach the 600 million Africans without access to electricity.

Without reliable electricity, people all across Africa struggle to go about their daily lives. Developed countries take 24/7 power for granted, with supply outstripping demand.

Sub-Saharan Africa countries cannot take this liberty; they do not have the supply nor power generation, but there is for sure the demand for reliable electricity, and the Power Africa programme is helping to bridge the gap between demand and supply.

By 2030, the Power Africa Initiative hopes to; create an additional 60 million new connections, connecting Africans to the grid for the first time; increase power generation by 30,000MW; install an additional 7,500MW of transmission capacity; and, build an additional 5,000km of transmission lines across Africa.

In addition to this, the project hopes to bring 10 priority power projects to a financial close. This includes creating a central corridor from South Africa to the DRC, integrating Malawi and Namibia into the power pool; and it also includes addressing power deficits in landlocked countries such as Burkina Faso.

Today, Power Africa is currently tracking over 800 power generation projects across Sub-Saharan Africa, all of which could be built by 2030.

The future is looking likely to bring light to the 600 million Africans that are currently left in the dark, but with population increases, the advances made in electricity generation will not keep up with demand.

However, projects like this go a long way in securing a future for millions of Africans left behind by the west and the developed world. Universal access to electricity is a United Nations’s sustainable development goal, but unless a significant financial increase is made into baseload power, these countries will never be pushed out of poverty.

Baseload is vital as it provides uninterruptible 24/7 power and is the only way to build significant supply for an ever-increasing demand. Only the future will tell if developed countries are taking their commitments on the UN’s sustainable development goals seriously enough.

India on verge of universal electricity access

By | Affordable electricity, Developing Countries, India | No Comments

India is finally projected to have reached 100% access to electricity by the end of January 2019. It comes a couple of months overdue as announced by the India prime minister, Narendra Modi when he set this policy in late 2017.

Throughout the programme, over 30,000 families have been connected to electricity every day across India, with only an estimated 400,000 families left to be connected to the grid.

An Indian government official commented, “The 100 per cent household electrification under Saubhagya will be achieved by month end. The government has energised 2.44 crore (244 million) households under the scheme to date.”

As of 2016, the World Bank recorded that India had only 84.5% of its population connected to electricity.

In the two years since the latest World Bank date, it is clear that the Modi government in India has taken access to electricity seriously, and has pursued it as one of its top government priorities.

It is only with constant uninterruptible power that Indian families can increase their standard of living, with children enjoying sufficient electricity to continue their education; businesses able to operate in darkness, increasing India’s GDP; and allowing hospitals to provide world class healthcare opportunities to all Indians.

As a result of India’s energy mix, it has allowed the government to offer continued electricity access to all of its citizens. Over 50% of power comes from coal, 20% from hydro, 10% from gas, with the remaining amounts coming from diesel, nuclear and renewables.

It is reassuring to the rest of the world, and in particular to developing countries, that with a strong government and a strong energy mix focused around fossil fuel generation, every country can, and will, provide uninterruptible power to all its citizens.

Fossil fuels still the most reliable option for powering schools, factories and hospitals in the developing world

By | Affordable electricity, Developing Countries | No Comments

Fossil-fuels built the world that we all currently enjoy, especially in the western hemisphere, throughout the industrial revolution. It is only right that we allow developing countries to enjoy the luxuries that we once enjoyed when it comes to energy generation.

Renewable energy technology is becoming increasing cheaper with every year that passes. Since 2010, the cost of solar panels have reduced a staggering 73% and the cost of wind turbines have reduced 23% during the same period.

It is understandable as to why countries and governments are considering using alternatives to fossil-fuels, especially as the cost of building renewable projects have decreased dramatically over the past eight years.

However, governments should not lose sight of the types of energy that is fundamental for their countries and economies to grow. Only strong fossil-fuel baseload power, such as oil, gas and coal, will ensure that you have a reliable 24/7 power supply.

Renewables are a great avenue to pursue for off-grid solutions, but when governments are considering the future and stability of their country’s power supply, there should be no second-guessing the success of fossil-fuels. Especially with reductions in emissions with super-critical power plants emitting significantly less emissions than their prehistoric predecessors.

Southeast Asia alone has over US$120 billion pledged towards building new coal power plants across the continent, but there are concerns that cheaper renewable technology will scupper their future success.

The International Energy Agency has stated that coal is the fastest-growing energy source in Southeast Asia through to 2040. But, they have also predicted that solar plants will be cheaper than coal in Vietnam by 2027, Indonesia by 2028 and the Philippines by 2029.

It is a matter of fact that renewables will inevitably become cheaper than coal or fossil-fuel projects. But it should be remembered that a strong baseload of electricity is the only way for developing countries to lift their citizens out of poverty, as renewable energy is too unreliable to create the supply for an ever increasing population in the developing world.

And the only way to create a strong baseload is by using fossil-fuels, of which Southeast Asia has an abundance of resources.

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim resigns

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim resigns

By | Affordable electricity, Developing Countries | No Comments

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim has suddenly resigned his position in a time when there are evident differences between the organisation and the Trump administration’s pro fossil fuel stance.

During his presidency, Kim has increased levels of financing for green energy projects, while the Trump administration has promoted the use of fossil fuels to solve the global issue of energy poverty. However, the two avoided any public clashes over their differences.

Under his leadership the World Bank has come under increasing pressure from the US to spend less money on middle income countries, including China, and focus more resources on developing countries.

Since the election of US President Donald Trump, America has been encouraging the use of fossil fuels to aid the economic growth of the developing world.

At COP24, President Trump’s international energy and climate adviser, Wells Griffith, said: “We strongly believe that no country should have to sacrifice their economic prosperity or energy security in pursuit of environmental sustainability.”

Traditionally, the US has been responsible for the nomination of the World Bank president, which means the resignation of Kim could provide hope for much of the developing world looking to gain access to electricity.

Africa is being left in the dark whilst the rest of the world enjoys reliable electricity

By | Affordable electricity, Developing Countries, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa | No Comments

Across the world over 1.1 billion people are still without any form of electricity whatsoever. That means that children are being taught in dark unlit schools; citizens are walking the streets after light, raising questions of safety; and, businesses have to close early throughout the winter period as daylight runs out far too quickly.

How is it that as we progress into 2019, over 1.1 billion people in the world still have no access to electricity? That cannot be right.

And of that 1.1 billion, almost 95% of people live in Sub-Saharan Africa and the developing countries in Asia.

That being said, the electrification rate in Africa has increased since 2011, now standing at 43%, but it has struggled to keep up with the population increases found across the continent.

At the turn of the millennium Africa had over 817 million people living across the continent, but fast-forward to 2018 over 1.3 billion people now reside there. However, during the same time, only 200 million Africans were connected to the grid for the first time.

It is clear that there are significant electricity generation advances across Africa but population growth is seriously outstripping electricity generation by a very wide-margin.

There is not just a poor electricity generation rate across Africa, but there is also a disparity between African countries that are very close to universal access to power and those that are so far behind that they won’t achieve that milestone for many decades to come.

Gabon, Algeria, Morocco, Libya, Tunisia and Egypt are all past the 90% electrification rate, whereas 15 African countries are below the 25% mark. A quarter of all those without power come from Nigeria, Angola, Sudan and Ethiopia- some of the most populous countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Naturally, there are difficulties in African nations securing significant sums of money by domestic and international companies to build new and improved power plants, albeit with fossil fuels or renewable energy.

But they should not be left behind!

Every citizen of the world deserves access to electricity and the time to act is now. The only way for countries to secure quick, reliable and uninterruptible power is for governments to prioritise investment in power generation using the cheapest and most widely available technologies – whether that is hydro, gas, coal or renewables.

African Leaders: World Bank should allow developing countries to use fossil fuels

By | Affordable electricity, Developing Countries, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa | No Comments

The president of the World Bank Jim Yong Kim has been contacted by various African leaders urging him to relax the international bank’s rules on financing fossil fuel power plants in developing countries.

African leaders are annoyed at the ignorance of western countries whom have dictated to developing countries around the world, but especially in Africa, that they are not entitled to any fossil fuel baseload power.

These leaders feel that they are entitled to the same rights and privileges that western countries are entitled to, and they make the argument that they are not responsible for most of the carbon already polluted in the air, so why should they be held back it securing electricity for the 600 million Africans without any form of power.

Collectively, African leaders sent a message to Mr Kim ahead of his recent visit to Indonesia. They said, “You’re outraged by climate change, we have almost no responsibility for putting the carbon in the air and yet you’re telling us we can’t develop and have baseload energy because we can’t use a single drop of fossil fuel for our own energy needs.”

In response, Mr Kim said, “We feel that you have to listen to the social justice arguments from people from poor countries who have not put any of the carbon in the air and want to have baseload.”

Current technology today can significantly reduce the amount of carbon emitted into the air, so the argument the World Bank is making is a non-starter in the eyes of many organisations and institutions around the world.

It will be interesting to see if the World Bank will change their patriarchal edict preventing finance for fossil fuel power generation projects, giving African leaders the ability and freedom to secure uninterruptible 24/7 electricity for all of their citizens.

Rwanda to improve electricity supply with $266 million loan

By | Affordable electricity, Developing Countries | No Comments

The African Development Bank has approved a loan of US$266 million to the government of Rwanda in order to expand electricity access and transmission lines across the country.

Rwanda is a relatively small country considering its neighbours on the African continent. It has a population of 12 million but only 41% of Rwandans actually have access to electricity encouraging them out of poverty.

The government has set an ambitious target of installing and distributing enough power to all of its citizens by 2024. As it stands, Rwanda only has 209MW of installed electricity capacity.

The additional funding from the African Development Bank will help to construct an additional 8,000km of transmission lines, boosting connectivity across the country and pushing the country towards universal access.

In addition to national grid improvements, the money will also enable the government to give on-grid power for the first time to 193,000 households, and off-grid power to 124,000 other households.

Giving Rwandans electricity is a way of reducing the poverty rate even further from the significant improvements in recent years. In 2014 the poverty rate reduced from 44% in 2011 to 39%.

The World Bank supports Rwanda on its energy, agriculture and transport sectors, but yet they refuse to fund fossil fuel base-load power plants.

Rwanda is only a small country; with the introduction of one or two small ultra-supercritical coal power plants, the country would reach 100% electrification within a matter of years, not decades.

The $266 million injection of cash into the Rwandan national grid is welcome, but more needs to be done in order to generate more electricity for all Rwandans.

Focus should be placed on energy generation over renewable energy in the first instance; a healthy energy mix is vital, but 100% universal access to electricity should be the number one priority in order to transform Rwanda into a middle-income economy.

Bangladesh to invest in solar panels but not everyone has access to power

By | Affordable electricity, Bangladesh, Developing Countries | No Comments

Bangladesh is investing in 22 solar power projects which would generate an additional 1,370MW of power. But universal electricity access is far from a reality, with one quarter of the population still left in the dark.

The Bangladesh state-run infrastructure company Idcol have confirmed that they are looking for a private company to build and run a 10MW solar power plant in the northwestern area of Bangladesh, at the cost of Tk 69 crore (£6.2 million).

The solar plant will sit across 42 acres of land in the northwestern border town of Tetulia. As it stands, the plant will commence producing power in February 2019.

In addition to the above project, the government of Bangladesh have also approved another 22 on-grid solar power projects. This will add 1,370MW to the national grid, helping small communities keeping the lights on all year round.

By 2020, Bangladesh has vowed to ensure that 10% of its power generation comes from renewable sources. In February 2017, the installed capacity rate in Bangladesh stood at 13,555MW.

Currently solar only accounts for 2% of the country’s installed energy sources, with gas accounting for the most at 65%, oil at 20%, coal at 1.8% and the rest sourced from diesel or hydro energy.

The Bangladesh government has pledged to ensure that over 50% of its energy mix will be sourced from coal energy projects, but they still have a long way to go to make this happen.

The government in Bangladesh should reprioritise its agenda to support, finance and build more base-load power projects that ensure the supply of uninterruptible electricity. It is only with low-cost reliable electricity from coal, gas and hydro that communities and individuals can lift themselves out of poverty.

The mission of every government should be to ensure that everyone can power their lives, ensuring they are safe walking home at night with street lamps; providing power to schools giving a good education to children; or allowing people to create their own businesses.

Trump planning to use former coastal military bases to export coal and gas to Asia

By | Affordable electricity, Developing Countries | No Comments

US President Donald Trump is looking at using former military bases on the west coast of the United States of America in order to export gas and coal to Asia.

The administration hopes install gas and coal ports on federal facilities as part of Trump’s agenda to promote America’s ‘energy dominance’ across the world.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has said: “it’s in our interest for national security and our allies to make sure that they have access to affordable energy commodities.”

US coal exports to Asia doubled in 2017, with over 23 million tonnes was exported to Asia from through 2018 to June, with Japan, China and South Korea being the biggest importers of US coal.

Developing countries deserve the right to use fossil fuel-based energy generation, just as all developed countries have done so in the past and continue to do so today. This development by the Trump administration shows the US’s commitment to promoting energy access Asia and the rest of the world.

Every person across the world deserves access to energy, and every country needs to have a strong and secure baseload of power.

New supercritical coal power plant coming soon to Bangladesh

By | Affordable electricity, Bangladesh, Developing Countries | No Comments

The new power project will cost over US$2.5 billion and supply an additional 1,320MW to the national grid. Currently, only two-thirds of Bangladeshis have access to power, but this is predicted to substantially increase by 2030.

This coal power plant will be ultra-supercritical, which means that it will be 43% more efficient than conventional coal power stations, emitting fewer emissions whilst producing more electricity.

The Bangladesh government plans to exceed expected demand of 34,000MW by 2030, but current supply stands around 13,000-17,000MW mark. Added to this, just under 60 million Bangladeshis still currently lack any form of power whatsoever.

It is welcome that the government is pushing for a more coal-based electricity grid with an ambitious target of 50% electricity production from domestic and international coal sources by 2030.

The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific reported in 2015 that there are 52 upcoming power generation projects across the country, either in development, under construction or in the planning phase. Once all 52 are complete, it will provide an additional 18,000MW of power to the national grid.

This new supercritical power station will go along way in increasing the country’s electricity output, as will the other 52 projects under development or construction.

Only by giving Bangladeshis power, will the country achieve their overall goal of being a middle-income country and improving the standard of living in the country.