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Shaping Africa’s Energy Future

Africa’s economy is now the second fastest growing in the world after China. It has the youngest population on Earth, with over 50 per cent below the age of 19. Additionally, it is home to many countries that either completely lack any kind of electrical infrastructure, or what they do have is significantly outdated and in bad repair. In Zambia, the government estimates that outside of one major city, only 1-3% of the population has access to electricity.

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In the South Pacific, the Maldives is entirely reliant upon imported energy with large distances between the inhabited islands and the mainland, making energy transport costs very high. Additionally, the Maldives imports all its fuels in refined form and in very small quantities, which makes this form of fuel even more expensive. Costs for electricity in the country often exceed $1 USD per kWh, which is substantially higher than energy costs in developed countries.

Over the last 18 months, DNV GL has created the preliminary wind atlases for Zambia, Tanzania and The Maldives, as part of phase 1 of an Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP) project funded by the World Bank. The project aims to reveal the true extent of wind energy production potential in each of the three countries. DNV GL’s early test results have already revealed huge opportunities, with extensive wind flow modelling in Zambia, Tanzania and The Maldives indicating great wind energy production potential. Using this preliminary work, DNV GL performed a multi-criteria site selection for installing met masts, using various tools including GIS, with the dual goal of calibrating the atlases and providing data at sites with future potential for large scale development.

The potential of renewable resources in these regions is not yet well understood, and the governments and private industry within these countries often don’t have the means or expertise to get better insight. These projects explore and discover the potential of renewables in these countries, with all key outputs and datasets being made publicly available through the Global Atlas for Renewable Energy that is being developed by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

The governments of these countries will be able to use our maps to develop policies and strategies for wind energy. The maps are also an important tool for attracting investors and developers, who have thus far been reluctant to invest in the region. By creating these maps, DNV GL has removed a major risk obstacle for them.

Phase 1 of the project began in June 2014 and the overall project is set to run until 2018. The first phase, completed in May 2015, saw DNV GL carry out the wind flow modelling and conduct intensive workshops for key governmental stakeholders and decision makers in each country, delivering training on a wide range of topics including interpretation of wind atlases, wind resource assessments, wind power development, GIS, energy policy essentials, and bankable measurement campaigns.

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The next phase of the project will involve the installation of met masts at various locations in each country to allow experts to collect real data for a period of two years. Multidisciplinary site visits and permitting has already occurred in some countries. During the build-outs, DNV GL will train local stakeholders on how to use the data, and local companies to build and maintain the masts in the future. The final stage involves creating a redefined and validated meso-micro wind atlas for each country, combining both the DNV GL models and the real-life measurements.

Given the breadth and depth of technical expertise required, DNV GL has utilized a unique interdisciplinary and multinational team of experts from the US, UK, Canada, Australia and South Africa to work on the project. David Walker, CEO, DNV GL – Energy said: “As the largest independent global energy expert DNV GL is uniquely placed to help solve the energy trilemma and help accelerate the world’s transition to a safer, smarter, greener energy future against the backdrop of conflicting technical, regulatory, economical and societal interests. For developing countries like Zambia, Tanzania and The Maldives, mapping potential wind energy resources is an important step towards a better access to renewable energy. The shared vision and path breaking work that DNV GL and the World Bank is demonstrating with these projects will help governmental stakeholders and developers understand the true renewable energy resources and help drive vital overseas investment in the region.”

The World Bank’s ESMAP is implementing a major global initiative designed to support renewable energy resource assessment and mapping for biomass, small hydro, solar and wind. It has allocated $22.5m to support 12 country projects over a four-year period up to 2018.

The Global Atlas for Renewable Energy is an initiative that is coordinated by IRENA, the International Renewable Energy Agency. Its aim is to close the gap between nations with access to the means needed to evaluate their national renewable energy potential, and those countries lacking such a capability. As of January 2015, 67 countries and more than 50 institutes and partners contributed to the initiative.

Through this project, DNV GL expects not only wind atlases refined by actual on-site data, but partnerships and knowledge development with local business. DNV GL is working extensively with in-country mast installers, utilities, engineers and local governments, both learning the details of their energy infrastructure, and building capacity and knowledge for local government and industry to independently advance their wind energy industry. In partnership with the World Bank and DNV GL, Zambia, Tanzania’s and the Maldives’ are on the way to a safe and sustainable energy future.

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