Renewable Energy Potential in Chad


    The energy sector is largely underdeveloped. Consumption of conventional energy (electricity and petroleum products) accounts for only 10% of national consumption. The exorbitant cost and scarcity of electricity poses a major obstacle to Chad’s economic development. Over 80% of the production and consumption of electricity occurs in the capital, N’Djamena.
    Output of electricity was 103 GWh in 2008, from thermal sources only. Per capita electricity consumption in 2008 was 9 kWh.

    There is currently no oil refining activity in Chad. The country is entirely dependent on imports from Nigeria, Cameroon and other neighbouring countries. Petroleum products are imported by road, and supplies are erratic. Tamoil and Total, which have storage facilities, provide some 35% of imports (mostly from Cameroon and Nigeria). About a dozen private Chadian importers supply a substantial part of the import of refined petroleum products. Retail distribution is largely in the hands of informal operators. Since the liberalisation of trade in petroleum products in 2002, distribution companies have been free to set sale prices. Estimated oil imports in 2009 were 1,837 bbl/day.

    There is no international trade in electric power, although the possibility has been discussed, and a feasibility study conducted into interconnection with Cameroon.
    At the national level, 2.2% of households use electricity, with only 12% having access in the capital and 1% in provincial areas. The per capita electricity consumption is one of the lowest in the world and tariffs are among the highest. Interconnection of the national electric network with those of countries in the region with adequate supply capacity, could help address this constraint. The current status of the Chadian electricity network is limited, with three small, non-interconnected grids serving the cities of N’Djamena and Shar Mouduo Abeché constituting the entirety of the distribution infrastructure.

    Supply is largely in deficit. The bulk of consumption is met through biomass. STEE, the main institution responsible for electricity production and distribution, does not have the capacity to meet the country’s ever-growing electric energy demand. The utility’s poor economic performance is also a concern, as short-term considerations have often taken precedence over long-term development decisions in recent years.

    The energy problem is central to environmental issues. Wood and charcoal provide 90% of the energy consumed in Chad, and natural gas consumption is on the rise, growing from 69 metric tons in 1999 to 367 metric tons in 2004. However, only a small percentage of the population uses this type of energy. Fewer than 11,000 households are equipped with gas heaters, and 90% of these households are located in N’Djamena, the capital.
    Electricity prices in Chad are among the highest in the world. On 1 January 2005, the price per kWh (low tension) moved from CFAF 200 to CFAF 125, versus CFAF 63 in Cameroon, the equivalent of CFAF 20 in Nigeria, and CFAF 26-52 in France. In 2010, power tariffs were still far above normal African levels, at approximately US$ 44 cents/kWh. Proposals for reducing fuel costs include the construction of an oil-fired topping plant in the Doba oil field, currently operated by Exxon.

    As a large number of African countries tend to, Chad has daily solar radiation ranging between 4 and 6 kWh/m2, offering a significant energy resource. Solar energy is primarily used for solar cooking at this time. The majority of the country has a global irradiation of 2,000 – 2,400 kWh/ m2, rising to over 2,800 kWh/ m2 in some areas.
    The country shows significant wind potential in its central region, where the theoretical potential reaches 7-7.5 m/s. However, in Chad the political stance has not been clearly stated with regards to the development of wind energy projects and the technical feasibility of wind energy projects is non-conclusive, at least in the medium term (electrical grid, electrical load, layout of the land, etc.). In addition, other forms of renewable energy are perceived to be either more competitive or more appropriate in the national context (geothermal, hydraulic, bio-combustibles, solar photovoltaic).
    Agricultural residues are abundant in the region, and are very valuable for energy production. As a sugar producing country, Chad has large quantities of bagasse available for energy production from co-generation as a surplus from the internal sugar mills needs. Biomass is the primary energy source for the majority of the country’s rural population, with over 93% using traditional biomass fuels.
    Evidence of geothermal activity has been noted in mineral resource surveys in the Tibesti area of the country. However, no study has been undertaken as to the potential of this resource for power generation.
    Chad’s economically and technically feasible hydropower potential is approximately 150 GWh/year. Plans are ongoing to create an inter-connection between hydropower resources in Cameroon and N’Djamena, the Chadian capital.
    Energy Efficiency 
    The wood fuels situation in Chad is similar to most of its neighbouring countries. Wood fuels will be used for some time in sub-Saharan cities, and their sustainability is questionable. However, Chad is implementing a village based management program, with the help of a new autonomous private agency, AEDE, and the introduction of a new Law and Decree to support the efficient management of the wood fuel sector. Proposals recently put forward by the International Monetary Fund also call for the improvement of efficiency of the national utility company, in both operations and finance. Technical and physical losses in the Chadian electricity network have also traditionally been a problem, and supply-side efficiency is considered a priority for development of the sector. Distribution losses alone in 2008 were estimated at 7 GWh.