Energy

Energy (247)

Rosatom SMR Solutions For Sub-Saharan Africa

There has been widespread interest in the development of civil nuclear programs in Africa. Nuclear power plants are cheaper to run than their coal or gas rivals even if we factor in spent nuclear fuel management and disposal.

Other important advantage is regularity of nuclear power supply: contrary to renewable source of energy which are dependable on the weather conditions.

Africa, and Sub-Saharan Africa in particular, has never been viewed as a robust market for nuclear power. With the emergence of small modular reactors (SMRs) technology, nuclear increases its chances to be considered as a feasible option to address regional energy needs in a low carbon and stable energy generation with predictable costs.

SMRs offer unique benefits such as easy grid connection, flexibility in terms of placement, multipurpose application and possible integration with renewables. They can be a good alternative to diesel generators providing reliable power supply and preventing harmful emissions at a competitive price. One more advantage is that they offer lower capital investment which can be crucial point while taking a decision of their deployment.

The latest developments of in this area feature Russian RITM series SMR designed for nuclear icebreakers, land-based small NPPs, and floating nuclear power plants. It is based on times proved pressurized water reactor (PWR) technology and Rosatom 400 reactor-years of experience in operation of small modular reactors.

This advanced technology incorporates all the best features from its predecessors – ship reactors. Rosatom has already constructed six RITM series reactors by now. RITM-200 reactors have already been manufactured and installed on Arktika, Sibir and Ural nuclear icebreakers. The technology has proven its efficiency and ultimate safety throughout all stage of the life cycle including radioactive waste management.

At present, Rosatom is working on the optimized version of the floating nuclear power plant based on RITM series reactors. Recently in May 2020, the Russian nuclear state corporation has fully commissioned its first floating nuclear power plant Akademik Lomonosov with two KLT-40 reactors that in a pair produce up to 77 MW of electricity. KLT-40 is a predeсessor of RITM series SMR. FNPP Akademik Lomonosov is the northernmost nuclear power plant in the world that provides electricity to the isolated Chaun-Bilibino network in Pevek, Chukotka, Russia’s Far East. 

“We are working hard to do our part in delivering the great stories from our industry, to highlight its true potential to become a catalyst for sustainable development in Africa. We all understand that nuclear will play a vital role in achieving the United Nations sustainability goals not only in Africa but across the globe,” noted Ryan Collyer, acting CEO Rosatom Central and Southern Africa speaking at the Africa Energy Indaba Forum in Cape Town (South Africa) earlier this year.

 

 

Crane Management Services Issues COVID-19 SOPs As Arcades Plot Comeback

Crane Management Services (CMS), a Ruparelia Group property managing agency, has issued Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to all tenants occupying all their buildings in Kampala.

The move by Crane Management Services has come at a time when commercial properties owners in Kampala are pressurizing the government to allow them to reopen their buildings for business after 3 months of COVID-19 lockdown.

Crane Management Services Managing Director, Rajiv Ruparelia, addressing a press conference on Friday said that they put at all their properties measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus like hand washing basins, temperature checks and ensure everyone wears a face mask.

”COVID-19 is not going to disappear soon. So, the question is how do we operate within its framework? And the measures we have put in place are quite simple; We have already ordered for many handwashing stations that will be placed at every entrance of the building,” Rajiv said.

“There will be automatic sprays that you put your hands under and the soap will come under. So, you will be able to ensure that very bacteria on your hands is killed and neutralized,” he added.

“What we will do is actually that we will control the entrance and exit points. We will set up checkpoints where you wash your hands, where temperature checks are done and we will deploy more security personnel, to ensure that everybody is checked before entering or exiting the building,” he explained.

Rajiv who emphasized that they will also ensure that everybody wears a face mask and observes the social distancing reiterated that will also control the number of people in the arcade at any one time.

He also noted that they will work hand in hand with their tenants to ensure that this is all observed and followed religiously because it is in their interest as landlords and tenants to start opening up the buildings so that the survival of the tenants can start.

“This way, tenants can start supporting their families again because they have been closed for the last four months and they have no other source of income, which is going to create a bigger threat to us and to the economy at large,” Rajiv said.

Renewables Increasingly Beat Even Cheapest Coal Competitors On Cost

Renewable power is increasingly cheaper than any new electricity capacity based on fossil fuels, a new report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) published today finds. 

Renewable Power Generation Costs in 2019 shows that more than half of the renewable capacity added in 2019 achieved lower power costs than the cheapest new coal plants.

The report highlights that new renewable power generation projects now increasingly undercut existing coal-fired plants. On average, new solar photovoltaic (PV) and onshore wind power cost less than keeping many existing coal plants in operation, and auction results show this trend accelerating – reinforcing the case to phase-out coal entirely.

Next year, up to 1 200 gigawatts (GW) of existing coal capacity could cost more to operate than the cost of new utility-scale solar PV, the report shows.

 Replacing the costliest 500 GW of coal with solar PV and onshore wind next year would cut power system costs by up to USD 23 billion every year and reduce annual emissions by around 1.8 gigatons (Gt) of carbon dioxide (CO2), equivalent to 5% of total global CO2 emissions in 2019. It would also yield an investment stimulus of USD 940 billion, which is equal to around 1% of global GDP.

"We have reached an important turning point in the energy transition. The case for new and much of the existing coal power generation, is both environmentally and economically unjustifiable," said Francesco La Camera, Director-General of IRENA.

"Renewable energy is increasingly the cheapest source of new electricity, offering tremendous potential to stimulate the global economy and get people back to work. Renewable investments are stable, cost-effective and attractive offering consistent and predictable returns while delivering benefits to the wider economy."

"A global recovery strategy must be a green strategy," La Camera added. "Renewables offer a way to align short-term policy action with medium- and long-term energy and climate goals. 

Renewables must be the backbone of national efforts to restart economies in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak. With the right policies in place, falling renewable power costs, can shift markets and contribute greatly towards a green recovery." 

Renewable electricity costs have fallen sharply over the past decade, driven by improving technologies, economies of scale, increasingly competitive supply chains and growing developer experience. Since 2010, utility-scale solar PV power has shown the sharpest cost decline at 82%, followed by concentrating solar power (CSP) at 47%, onshore wind at 39% and offshore wind at 29%. 

Costs for solar and wind power technologies also continued to fall year-on-year. Electricity costs from utility-scale solar PV fell 13% in 2019, reaching a global average of 6.8 cents (USD 0.068) per kilowatt-hour (kWh). Onshore and offshore wind both declined about 9%, reaching USD 0.053/kWh and USD 0.115/kWh, respectively. 

Recent auctions and power purchase agreements (PPAs) show the downward trend continuing for new projects are commissioned in 2020 and beyond.

Solar PV prices based on competitive procurement could average USD 0.039/kWh for projects commissioned in 2021, down 42% compared to 2019 and more than one-fifth less than the cheapest fossil-fuel competitor namely coal-fired plants.

Record-low auction prices for solar PV in Abu Dhabi and Dubai (UAE), Chile, Ethiopia, Mexico, Peru and Saudi Arabia confirm that values as low as USD 0.03/kWh are already possible.   

For the first time, IRENA's annual report also looks at investment value in relation to falling generation costs. The same amount of money invested in renewable power today produces more new capacity than it would have a decade ago.

In 2019, twice as much renewable power generation capacity was commissioned than in 2010 but required only 18% more investment.  

Why Africa Needs To Diversify For A Clean Energy Transition

The world’s incredible decrease in energy consumption caused by COVID-19, and the unprecedented collapse of the oil and gas markets has some arguing that 2019 was the peak for oil and clean energy will dominate in the years ahead.

This and more was unpacked during a renewable energy webinar hosted by the African Energy Chamber and Africa Oil & Power on Thursday. Under the theme ‘Is now the time for renewables?’ the webinar gathered high-level speakers including Nelisiwe Magubane, Chairperson, Matleng Energy Solutions; Suzanne Jaworowski, Senior Advisor, Policy & Communications, Office of Nuclear Energy, U.S. Department of Energy; Massaer Cisse, General Manager, Lekela Power Senegal and Dr Clinton Carter-Brown, Head of the Energy Centre, South African Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.

The session highlighted the impact of COVID-19 on global renewable energy development discussions. According to Massaer Cissé: “COVID-19 has sparked a new discussion on the importance of renewables and we can expect renewable energy to be central topic in all conversations to come,"

"According to the International Energy Agency, 72% of all installed power capacity globally in 2019 originated from renewable energy, and it expects it to grow in 2020, despite the pandemic. COVID-19 is by definition a shock but it’s a temporary event. The long-term trends preexisting prior to the pandemic remain true today.

Renewable energies are now very competitive and are able to function without subsidies. Africa’s impact is relatively small on the global scale for global warming and climate change; however, we are primarily impacted. Therefore, Africa has a responsibility, beyond economic considerations, to contribute to finding solutions. I believe the renewable energy outlook remains very positive.”

Nelisiwe Magubane, from Matleng Energy Solutions, expressed concerns around the pandemic encouraging countries to halt the race to renewables and focus on indigenous assets, including fossil fuels: “We have seen countries having more nationalistic agendas in order to protect their assets and revitalize their economies, thus translating to the use of more indigenous resources.

Africa is well-endowed with renewable energy resources and it has become very competitive compared to other energy sources. However, it can’t meet peak demand, depending on the country. Other energy sources are needed to complement renewables, and the overall goal is to lower emissions, rather than aim right now to bring it down to zero. We need to have a pragmatic approach to deploy an energy mix benefitting the country and the environment.

Suzanne Jaworowski, from the U.S. Office of Nuclear Energy underlined the importance of market volatility and reliability issues linked to the energy sector globally, and how the pandemic has highlighted those two challenges as central to a sustainable energy sector.

As an advocate for the development of nuclear energy, Suzanne highlighted technology advancements which make nuclear a viable option for African countries in terms of cost as well as security: “Nuclear is a serious option to be considered in terms of energy transition. Smaller modular reactor designs which will come online in the next few years are economically competitive with combined cycle natural gas plants. Of course, each country must decide what is best, but major nuclear technology advancements make it worthy of taking it into account. Nuclear is a lot more accessible cost wise making it a viable option.”

The discussion also touched on natural gas as a prime fuel for energy transition. As an energy specialist in South Africa, Dr Clinton Carter-Brown commented: “Ninety percent of South Africa’s electricity runs on coal. We have one of the highest numbers of emissions per capita across the globe. The shift from coal to renewable is particularly key in our country, economically and in regard to the energy transition. Natural gas will have a major role play in the transition, provided we are able to build the appropriate processing and transport infrastructure. The energy transition will create immense employment opportunities and is a major challenge in the years coming up.”

Finally, the discussion touched on localization and local content. Although it is hot topic in the oil and gas space, local capacity development is equally, if not more, important in the renewable energy sector as it is home to major technology innovations.

Massaer Cissé used the telecommunications revolution as an example to show that the energy sector is on the verge of its own revolution: “The energy sector is following the path of telecommunications. When mobile telecommunications came online, previously isolated communities suddenly could access mobile solutions. In the energy sector, mini solar kits, portable battery storage solutions, small wind power plants among others, are setting the energy on the path of revolution, in which renewables are a key component. Nuclear also has a major role to play because the main driver of the energy revolution is technological. “

Nelisiwe Magubane brought up the issue of intellectual property as a key component of the regulatory frameworks to be designed by governments: “Renewable energy is an opportunity for African countries to create proprietary technology, be strict about intellectual property and drive technological innovation and energy independence.”

Final words from Massaer Cisse underlined that the renewable energy revolution has not been hindered by COVID-19. “We all agree that the current situation is not sustainable. Energy sources don’t need to be mutually exclusive. Oil, nuclear, natural gas, coal have the biggest role to play. Renewables is here to stay and grow.”

COVID-19 Intensifies Urgency To Expand Sustainable Energy Solutions Worldwide

Despite accelerated progress over the past decade, the world will fall short of ensuring universal access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy by 2030 unless efforts are scaled up significantly, reveals the new Tracking SDG 7: The Energy Progress Report released on Thursday by the International Energy Agency (IEA) the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD), the World Bank, and the World Health Organization (WHO).

According to the report, significant progress had been made on various aspects of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 7 prior to the start of the COVID-19 crisis. This includes a notable reduction in the number of people worldwide lacking access to electricity, strong uptake of renewable energy for electricity generation, and improvements in energy efficiency. Despite these advances, global efforts remain insufficient to reach the key targets of SDG 7 by 2030.

“Renewable energy is key to achieving SDG 7 and building resilient, equitable and sustainable economies in a post COVID-19 world. Now more than ever is the time for bold international cooperation to bridge the energy access gap and place sustainable energy at the heart of economic stimulus and recovery measures. IRENA is committed to scale up action with its global membership and partners to channel investment and guide policy intervention in pursuit of sustainable development for all humankind,” said Francesco La Camera, Director-General of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

The number of people without access to electricity declined from 1.2 billion in 2010 to 789 million in 2018, however, under policies that were either in place or planned before the start of the COVID-19 crisis, an estimated 620 million people would still lack access in 2030, 85 percent of them in Sub-Saharan Africa. SDG 7 calls for universal energy access by 2030.

Other important elements of the goal also continue to be off track. Almost 3 billion people remained without access to clean cooking in 2017, mainly in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. Largely stagnant progress since 2010 leads to millions of deaths each year from breathing cooking smoke. The share of renewable energy in the global energy mix is only inching up gradually, despite the rapid growth of wind and solar power in electricity generation. An acceleration of renewables across all sectors is required to move closer to reaching the SDG 7 target, with advances in heating and transport currently lagging far behind their potential. Following strong progress on global energy efficiency between 2015 and 2016, the pace has slackened. The rate of improvement needs to speed up dramatically, from 1.7 percent in 2017 to at least 3 percent in coming years.

Accelerating the pace of progress in all regions and sectors will require stronger political commitment, long-term energy planning, increased public and private financing, and adequate policy and fiscal incentives to spur faster deployment of new technologies An increased emphasis on “leaving no one behind” is required, given the large proportion of the population without access in remote, rural, poorer and vulnerable communities.

The 2020 report introduces tracking on a new indicator, 7.A.1, on international financial flows to developing countries in support of clean and renewable energy. Although total flows have doubled since 2010, reaching $21.4 billion in 2017, only 12 percent reached the least-developed countries, which are the furthest from achieving the various SDG 7 targets.

The five custodian agencies of the report were designated by the UN Statistical Commission to compile and verify country data, along with regional and global aggregates, in relation to the progress in achieving the SDG 7 goals. The report presents policymakers and development partners with global, regional and country-level data to inform decisions and identify priorities for a sustainable recovery from COVID-19 that scales up affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy.

This collaborative work highlights once more the importance of reliable data to inform policy-making as well as the opportunity to enhance data quality through international cooperation to further strengthen national capacities. The report has been transmitted by SDG 7 custodian agencies to the United Nations Secretary-General to inform the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’s annual review.

Key highlights on SDG7 targets

  • Access to electricity: Since 2010, more than a billion people have gained access to electricity, connecting 90% of the planet's population in 2018 as a result. Yet 789 million people still live without electricity, mostly in Sub-Saharan Africa. 
  • Clean cooking: Almost 3 billion people remained without access to clean fuels and technologies for cooking, residing mainly in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. Over the 2010 to 2018 period, progress has remained largely stagnant, with the rate of population growth outpacing increase in access to clean cooking since 2012 in some countries.  
  • Renewable energy: The share of renewables in the global energy mix reached 17.3% of final energy consumption in 2017, up from 16.3% in 2010. Renewables consumption (+2.5 percent in 2017) is growing faster than global energy consumption (+1.8 percent in 2017), continuing a trend in evidence since 2011. While renewables have seen an unprecedented uptake in the electricity sector over the last decade, the use of renewables in heating and transport sectors is lagging far behind potential.  
  • Energy efficiency: Global primary energy intensity improved by 1.7% in 2017. That is better than the 1.3% average rate of progress between 1990 and 2010, but still well below the original target rate of 2.6%, and a marked slowdown from the previous two years. 
  • International financial flows: International public financial flows to developing countries in support of clean and renewable energy doubled since 2010, reaching $21.4 billion in 2017. These flows mask important disparities with only 12% of flows in 2017 reaching those most in need (least developed countries and small island developing states). Enhanced international cooperation is essential to bridge the gap.

Nuclear Technology To Help Combat Covid-19

The novel coronavirus crisis has led to a slowdown of the economic growth of countries across the world.

According to the World Bank biannual Africa’s Pulse report, which discusses the macroeconomic outlook for sub-Saharan Africa, released in April 2020, economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa will decline from 2.4 percent in 2019 to between -2.1 percent and -5.1 percent in 2020, depending on the success of measures taken to mitigate the pandemic’s effects. The report predicts that the region will experience its first recession in 25 years .

All industries mobilize to help to combat the negative effect of new pandemic on the global economy. Nuclear technologies also show multiple use during the crisis. Nuclear technology is a major baseload power-generating source and accounted for 10.3% of global power generation in 2019 . The use of nuclear technologies during these times  is not limited to maintaining stable electricity supply.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is providing diagnostic kits, equipment and training in nuclear-derived detection techniques to countries asking for assistance in tackling the worldwide spread of the novel coronavirus causing COVID-19. The assistance, requested by 14 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, is part of intensified global efforts to contain infections .

For its part, Russian State Nuclear Corporation ROSATOM, one of the leading energy and technology companies on the global scale, offers its latest developments for sterilization (i.e. the destruction of pathogens, spores, viruses) of medical devices. The company has already sterilised 24,416,893 medical masks as of May 19, as well as 334,500 portable lab kits to test for COVID-19 .

Unlike all other types of sterilization, this method has sufficient penetrating power, which allows it to process hermetically sealed products - the generated streams of accelerated electrons are able to penetrate the packaging of medical devices without violating its integrity, which eliminates the possibility of re-contamination of the product.

In addition, after processing the product with a stream of accelerated electrons, the product immediately becomes usable. This does not require degassing (unlike other sterilization methods) or other necessary actions, before actual use. This method of sterilization ensures environmental friendliness - there is no side chemical and other pollution during processing .

Yulia Kurashvili, Advisor to Director General of ROSATOM’s company – JSC Rusatom Healthcare (an integrator in the field of radiation technologies in medicine and industry), comments on new challenges in the use of nuclear technologies in medicine to be expected in the nearest future: “Medical devices are constantly evolving: their functionality is changing, they are becoming hybrid, the technologies and materials for their manufacture are changing. And viruses evolve too.

Therefore, I believe that specialists and medical sterilization technologies should always be “a step ahead”. At the end of the pandemic, the need for studies of the functional state of various organs and systems of the body of patients undergoing COVID-19 will increase. And only visualization based only on nuclear medical technologies and new radio pharmaceutical preparations will be able to provide such opportunities.”                                                                           

 

To Finance Its Energy Transition & Industrialization, Africa Needs To Think Local

As global markets think of the post-Covid-19 world and how the pandemic will reshape business models worldwide, African countries are coming to terms with a bitter reality: the continent has still not entered the Fourth Industrial Revolution and is heading towards its first recession in 25 years.

While the impact of the pandemic on African economies is expected to be lesser than in Europe or North America, it still puts to the forefront the continent’s overdependence on key commodities for its economies to function, and under-investment into social infrastructure.

For Africa, the COVID-19 pandemic is turning into a wake up call to find better ways to industrialize, chief amongst them being access to reliable, cheap and clean energy. Given global liquidity constraints however, financing Africa’s energy transition and supporting industrialization will require becoming more competitive and finding new ways to mobilize capital across key industries and projects.

The topic was at the center of a leading webinar discussion between Kola Karim, Managing Director and CEO of Shoreline Energy International, Vitol Senior Investment Manager Steven Brann, and Bambili Group Managing Director Nyonga Fofang. The webinar was organized by the African Energy Chamber and hosted by Africa Oil & Power.

The key to industrialization in Africa is access to power, which heavily relies on Africa’s ability to get its natural resources right, especially natural gas. Up until now, most of Africa’s gas has been produced for the benefits of foreign markets in Asia, the Americas, Europe and the Middle East, where it is shipped as LNG.

LNG prices have dropped to historic lows and are currently below the $2 threshold in Europe and Asia, while African power producers still pay above that price to get natural gas in their turbines. Current market prices for natural gas are expected to remain depressed for a while, and should be a strong incentive for African power producers to use LNG as a feedstock and switch their fuel oil or coal plants to LNG which can be easily procured on the continent.

However, proper management of Africa’s natural resources does not stop at switching existing power plants to gas in order to benefit from a cheap and locally-available resource. It rather requires a profound transformation of how African countries see energy and how they plan to power up their economies moving forward.

In doing so, financing will become an even greater challenge as capital becomes scarce and investors look for only very resilient assets to invest in. In that regard, participants noted that it is currently challenging to monetize Africa’s LNG across industries because industrial customers are reluctant to signing the kind of multi-year commitments required by gas producers to raise debt.

Because potential industrial users do not know what the future holds and do not get a clear vision on what their country’s energy mix will look like, their reluctance to switch to gas is directly impacting the attractiveness of the sector and has them keep paying expensive energy instead. Similarly, the imports of fuel oil and coal to power industries has become such a habit that making a long-term commitment on developing LNG receiving and processing infrastructure is now a matter of debate.

Participants highlighted the responsibility of both African sovereigns and the private sector in maintaining the continent in that energy status quo. In a post Covid-19 world, a situation in which Africa exports its energy while its people are in the dark, and imports finished products while its youth is unemployed is not longer viable.

The industry is calling for a strong sovereign participation on establishing a connection with the private sector and thinking holistically about the development of the continent. While foreign exchange and international capital will continue to be needed, there is an urgent need to energize African communities and neighbors first.

Nigeria cannot think of its gas development without keeping in mind the energy needs of its immediate neighbors for example. Similarly, South Africa cannot plan for its energy future without taking in consideration the vast gas reserves of its neighbors. The list of examples goes on.

Africa needs to use the solid base of its natural resources to create opportunities and change the narrative around its industrialization by making a difference in its own energy space. For such a paradigm shift to happen, African sovereigns need to take the lead.

Only at the sovereign level can a country raise several billion dollars from multilateral agencies and invest in the necessary projects and infrastructure that will support private sector investment and growth. Only political will can truly unlock the value of African cross-border energy cooperation and open up the doors for a wider African private sector cooperation across industries and within a prosperous free trade continent.

Meanwhile, additional efforts need to be done to mobilize local and patient capital from domestic funds and African family fortunes. Participants concluded on the fact that there is a lot of do-good capital sitting all across the continent, but its mobilization requires the presentation of above-standards bankable projects run by outstanding leadership teams. It is up to African leaders and African private sector executives to put the continent on a new path to prosperity.

Nuclear Fuel Has Been Delivered For Initial Loading To Power Unit 1 Of Belarusian NPP

The first batch of low-enriched uranium nuclear fuel has been delivered to the construction site of Belarusian NPP. The Russian-made fuel assemblies are currently being prepared for unloading and inspection.

“The initial delivery of fresh nuclear fuel is a landmark event in the construction of any nuclear plant and is of particular importance to Belarus, as it marks the first event of its kind in the republic. I sincerely congratulate our Belarusian colleagues for this joint achievement. In fact, this is the moment when the countdown to the physical launch actually starts,” said Vitaliy Polyanin, vice president of ASE EC JSC (part of Rosatom Group) and director of the Belarusian NPP construction project.

“We, alongside the customer (i.e. Belarusian NPP operator), Belarus’ Ministry of Emergency Situations, and Gosatomnadzor (Belarus’ nuclear watchdog), have done a tremendous amount of work to ensure the necessary conditions for fuel delivery, have putting pertinent facilities, systems, and equipment, including the unit’s emergency and physical protection installations, into operation to guarantee the delivery and safe storage of fresh nuclear fuel.”

The two-unit Belarusian NPP, with a total power capacity of 2,400 MW, is equipped with state-of-the-art, Russian-designed VVER-1200 reactors. This is the country’s first NPP; it is being built in the Belarusian town of Ostrovets and is based on a Russian 3+ generation design that fully complies with international standards and the safety recommendations of the IAEA.

 

Renewable Energy Can Support Resilient And Equitable Recovery

Advancing the renewables-based energy transformation is an opportunity to meet international climate goals while boosting economic growth, creating millions of jobs and improving human welfare by 2050, finds the first Global Renewables Outlook released by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) recently. 

While a pathway to deeper decarbonisation requires total energy investment up to USD 130 trillion, the socio-economic gains of such an investment would be massive, the Outlook reveals. Transforming the energy system could boost cumulative global GDP gains above business-as-usual by USD 98 trillion between now and 2050. It would nearly quadruple renewable energy jobs to 42 million, expand employment in energy efficiency to 21 million and add 15 million in system flexibility. 

IRENA's Director-General Francesco La Camera said: "Governments are facing a difficult task of bringing the health emergency under control while introducing major stimulus and recovery measures. The crisis has exposed deeply embedded vulnerabilities of the current system. IRENA's Outlook shows the ways to build more sustainable, equitable and resilient economies by aligning short-term recovery efforts with the medium-and long-term objectives of the Paris Agreement and the UN Sustainable Development Agenda." 

"By accelerating renewables and making the energy transition an integral part of the wider recovery, governments can achieve multiple economic and social objectives in the pursuit of a resilient future that leaves nobody behind." 

The Global Renewables Outlook examines building blocks of an energy system along with investment strategies and policy frameworks needed to manage the transition. It explores ways to cut global CO2 emissions by at least 70 per cent by 2050. Furthermore, a new perspective on deeper decarbonisation shows a path towards net-zero and zero emissions. Building on five technology pillars, particularly green hydrogen and extended end-use electrification could help replace fossil-fuels and slash emissions in heavy industry and hard-to-decarbonise sectors. 

Low-carbon investment would significantly pay off, the Outlook shows, with savings eight times more than costs when accounting for reduced health and environmental externalities. A climate-safe path would require cumulative energy investments of USD 110 trillion by 2050 but achieving full carbon neutrality would add another USD 20 trillion. 

The Outlook also looked at energy and socio-economic transition paths in 10 regions worldwide. Despite varied paths, all regions are expected to see higher shares of renewable energy use, with Southeast Asia, Latin America, the European Union and Sub-Saharan Africa poised to reach 70-80 per cent shares in their total energy mixes by 2050. Similarly, electrification of end uses like heat and transport would rise everywhere, exceeding 50 per cent in East Asia, North America and much of Europe.

All regions would also significantly increase their welfare and witness net job gains in the energy sector despite losses in fossil fuels. However, economy-wide, regional job gains are distributed unevenly. While regional GDP growth would show considerable variation, most regions could expect gains. 

Raising regional and country-level ambitions will be crucial to meet interlinked energy and climate objectives and harvest socio-economic welfare. Stronger coordination on international, regional and domestic levels will be equally important, the Outlook concludes, with financial support being directed where needed including to the most vulnerable countries and communities.

As partner of the Climate Investment Platform, launched to drive clean energy uptake and mobilise clean investment, IRENA will advance collaborative action targeted to help countries create enabling conditions and unlock renewable investment.

Should Africa Consider The Nuclear Energy Route?

Despite its advancements over the years particularly in the oil, gas and power industries, it is no secret that Africa is still plagued with the very real issue of inefficient energy supply. Recording nearly 600 million people with no access to electricity, the question of what it will take to eliminate poverty in Africa is prevalent now more than ever.

While the continent has enjoyed great achievements in oil and gas developments and seen the launch of numerous successful renewable energy programmes, bringing online large scale world-class projects, it still has not managed to close the power gap as it hedges forward with its goal of sustainable energy mixes. So, what’s next for Africa?

With rising populations and high electricity costs, African countries are investing in various sources for electricity generation but, one remains largely unimplemented and, not without reason.

Nuclear energy and Africa

While nuclear energy is widely unexplored on the continent with South Africa remaining the only country with a commercialised nuclear power plant.

Egypt is home to one of the oldest nuclear power programmes. Launched in 1954, the programme is responsible for the 4.8 GW El Dabaa nuclear power plant, currently in the construction phase. The project will be developed by, Russian State Atomic Energy Corporation (ROSATOM) - the biggest nuclear power player in Africa having concluded memoranda of understanding with Kenya, Nigeria, Sudan, Zambia and Uganda. 

Kenya’s first nuclear reactor is set for completion in 2027 while Uganda’s 2019 Inter-Governmental Agreement with ROSATOM to help develop nuclear infrastructure remains in place.

Though it has not made any announcements in regards to implementing nuclear in its energy mix, earlier this year, Senegal shared its readiness for nuclear energy, through its Integrated Nuclear Security Support Plan (INSSP) developed alongside the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

“Before the INSSP, we did not consider nuclear security to be a problem that affected our country, as we do not have a nuclear power programme. In cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency, we are working to assess our threats,” said Ndèye Arame Boye Faye, Director General of Senegal’s regulatory body, the Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Authority. “Since working with the IAEA, we have also reassessed our priorities and capabilities and enhanced our competencies in the field of nuclear security,” he told the agency.

The challenges of nuclear energy

Nuclear energy is one of the more attractive options when considering a clean, reliable and cost-effective energy source. But, it does not come without its challenges.

For instance, it could take years for a country anywhere in the world to initiate a nuclear power programme and, infrastructure development could not come any sooner than 10 -15 years. Simply put, the nuclear route requires a lot of patience and dedication – especially in Africa where a number of countries are working towards development.

According to Miliko Kovachev, Head of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Nuclear Infrastructure Development Section: “A successful nuclear power programme requires broad political and popular support and a national commitment of at least 100 years.”

100 years, a commitment that would not address Africa’s pressing power needs in the near term, especially with Sub-Saharan Africa’s population set to double over the next 30 years.

But, there is an alternative solution. Small scale nuclear reactors.

Defined by the World Nuclear Association as reactors that are generally 300MWe equivalent or less, small scale nuclear reactors are designed with modular technology using module factory fabrication, pursuing economies of series production and short construction times, making them one of the more practical solutions for African countries.

Another major hurdle of nuclear energy is financing. Due to its high cost of implementation, African countries looking at nuclear energy could be deterred. “But, there are financing mechanisms like, for instance, from export agencies of vendor countries. Tapping into a reliable, carbon-free supply of energy when vendors are offering to fund it can make sense for several countries in Africa,” said Kovachev.

American entrepreneurial firms that understand Africa are likely to succeed. IP3 International, a firm founded by retired Navy Rear Admiral Michael Hewitt, retired Army General John Keane, and Robert McFarlane, a former national security adviser to President Ronald Reagan is likely to make a strong play with an innovative approach that makes puts Africans at the foundation of it and also driven by local empowerment.

All these challenges are not ones that cannot be overcome and, Africa is ready to take them on.

“Platforms such as the International Framework for Nuclear Energy Cooperation and IP3 International are essential in opening the dialogue on the right approaches for Africa,” said NJ Ayuk, Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber.

“Because nuclear energy is still a foreign concept to many African economies, we need to take our lessons from the rest of the world and, participate in the conversations on nuclear efficiency, safety and security ensuring that when the time comes for us to move forward with nuclear, we have laid the foundation.”

Nuclear energy and the climate change debate

As the climate change debate continues and the global community seeks cleaner energy sources, the shift towards nuclear power for African countries would mean that they are able to reduce their carbon emissions as expressed under the Paris Agreement.

“African economic growth, job creation, and improved quality of life depend on affordable, abundant energy, nuclear-powered energy is clean, reliable and affordable" said Ayuk. “It is a workable solution for Africa.

Of course, it will take a lot of time, hard work and it will be challenging but, we need to look at alternative energy solutions. Our populations are rising and the gap is widening, we need to address the power issue and, we need to be open to doing it through exploring different routes,” he added.

In advancing nuclear power programmes, the African Energy Chamber encourages governments to show strong political will and create enabling environments for nuclear to take its place in our energy mixes. In getting started, African countries need to push forward with the programmes, put in place policies and regulations and, take lessons from the rest of China and Russia. If we are to close the power gap, we need to act now. Energy is the backbone of our development.

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