AFRICA: Huge clean energy potential?

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Massive potential for clean energy solutions to steer African development?
Growing activity from clean energy pioneers in Africa highlights the continent’s potential to become a major renewable energy producer…

A study by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the European Patent Office (EPO) identifies Africa’s big potential for generating clean energy…

This includes most obviously tapping into the continent’s solar energy resources but also harnessing hydroelectric power from African river systems, as well as wind and geothermal energy, etc…

Currently there is a long way to go in terms of building renewable energy output.

But there are signs of a growing interest in developing renewable energy systems that highlights the potential for the future…

With the right support and investment in renewable energy, it could act as a significant catalyst for economic development, as well as building a defence against climate change…

For instance, according to the UN study ‘Patents and clean energy technologies in Africa’ hydropower, the most common renewable energy system, is estimated to be used at only 4.3 per cent of Africa’s total capacity…

There are over 500 small hydropower plants (less than 10 MW) in use…

However, patent activity for renewable technologies reflects the potential for growth…

The report reveals for adaptation technologies, technologies in development to prepare for or mitigate against climate change – the African share in worldwide inventive activity is low at 0.26 per cent…

But the level of patent protection sought in African countries is increasing quickly at an average of 17 per cent per annum…

And whilst less than one per cent of all patent applications relating to clean energy technology have been filed in Africa, data does show that there is a relatively high level of inventive activity in Africa, mainly energy storage and hydrogen, fuel cell technologies and renewable energy…

While the global growth rate on overall inventive activity is 5 per cent, in Africa the growth rate overall is 9 per cent – but it is 59 per cent for mitigation technologies.

African nations have the opportunity of harnessing enormous natural renewable resources, with the right investment, and also avoiding over reliance on fossil fuels…

The results could be a meeting of energy needs and a boost to developing countries economies around clean, climate friendly energy solutions…

The figures suggest that social impact and philanthropy organisations, including impact investors backing clean tech entrepreneurs; as well as NGOs and development charities funding renewable energy solutions have a vital part to play…

International charities investing in renewable energy solutions to protect the environment and aid development in Africa include charity: water, Oxfam and others – including Practical Action that helps create and support local sustainable energy solutions like micro-hydropower and solar power projects…

Foundation charities that support sustainable energy solutions in Africa include the Bellona Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, and Energy4All Foundation.

INFORSE-Africa is an umbrella network of African NGOs working on sustainable energy solutions to protect the environment and tackle poverty, that includes the African Wind Energy Association (AWEA) in South Africa and dozens of similar sustainability organisations

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