Renewable Energy Rising in Southern Africa

The SADC region becoming a key player in the international trend towards development of renewable energy resources and energy efficiency. Renewables now account for 23.5% of generation.

An understanding of the SADC region’s emerging renewable energy industry, market development and growth is critical to realising the region’s potential and to scaling-up investment opportunities. In order to do so, REN21 and UNIDO have teamed up to produce the SADC Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Status Report which was launched today at SAIREC, the South African International Renewable Energy Conference.
The SADC report provides a comprehensive overview of the status of renewable energy and energy efficiency markets, industry, policy and regulatory frameworks, and investment activities in the region. The report draws on information from national and regional sources to present the most up-to-date summary of sustainable energy in the region.
There is huge untapped renewable energy potential in the region.  In four rounds, South Africa’s REIPPPP solar PV has accounted for 1899 MW and CSP 400 MW (not all of this capacity has been commissioned). Botswana, Malawi, Namibia and Tanzania are developing large-scale solar PV projects, and Swaziland and Zimbabwe are joining this trend.
Wind power is also taking up speed in the SADC region. As with solar, South Africa has led the way in sector development through its tender process with wind projects being implemented in Tanzania and Mauritius.
Current potential hydro resources in the region amount to just under 41,000 MW. Installed hydro capacity is just under 12,000MW, representing about 21.5% of total electricity capacity. Of this 97.6% is large-scale is hydro. With 2,431 MW, South Africa has the largest operational capacity with the DRC having the largest potential (39 GW).
Biomass – for electricity generation and industrial heating – is growing. The potential for biomass-generated electricity in the region is estimated at 9,500MW, based on agricultural waste alone.
SADC countries aim to increase renewable energy contribution to electricity supply to 27% in 2020 and 29% in 2030. SADC energy ministers recently gave approval to the formation of a SADC Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (SACREEE), selecting Namibia as the host country.
Attracting investment is becoming easier as interest in Africa and in renewable energy increases. Six SADC member states – Botswana, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe are ranked as being attractive to investors. Mauritius, South Africa and Tanzania accounted for USD 5.8 billion in 2014, with South Africa alone accounting for USD 5.5 billion.

The SADC Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Report is publicly available on the REN21 website.