Africa looks to renewables to curb warming, boost economies

From wind farms across the African coastline to geothermal projects in the east African rift valley, a new United Nations climate report on April 4 brought the continent's vast clean energy potential into the spotlight.

The U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change report comes at a time when Africa's renewable energy business is already booming. Many African nations are intensifying efforts to embrace alternative renewable energy pathways and shift away from fossil fuel dependency, with countries such as Kenya, Tanzania, Morocco, Egypt, Ethiopia and South Africa taking the lead on large-scale clean energy adoption.

Yet Africa has attracted just 2 percent - $60 billion - of the $2.8 trillion invested in renewables worldwide in the last two decades and accounts for only 3 percent of the world's current renewable energy capacity, the Associated Press quoted the report as saying.

Limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius or 2C, in line with the 2016 Paris climate agreement, will involve even greater energy system transformation, the U.N. report said.

That means more renewable energy intiatives, such as Kenya's Lake Turkana Wind Power, launched in 2019 some 600 kilometers northwest of the capital Nairobi and making up 18 percent of the country's energy production, are needed. Its CEO, Phylip Leferink, said large projects like these can be replicated, but it remains logistically challenging.

"The wind conditions in the north of Kenya are rather unique for the continent. You will be hard-pressed to find another location in Africa with a similar wind regime," Leferink said. "This however does not mean that there is no potential for other wind projects in Africa; there most certainly is. Especially the African coastline, from...

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