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12 Aug 2022

What an Integrated Energy Approach Could Imply for Africa (Opinion Piece)

Tags
integrated approach
Author
Ekene Mekwunye
integrated approach

The lack of access to electric power is among the constraining factors for Africa’s development. About 800 million people live without electricity globally, most of which exist in sub-Saharan Africa. This lack is due to poor electricity transmission infrastructure and dependence on obsolete approaches to electrification.

Centralised power grids, which are prominent in this region, are not only expensive, especially for rural settlers, but also provide unreliable service where accessible.

Solving this problem has been integrating and adopting renewable energy solutions such as solar home systems, rooftop solar and mini-grids. These technologies enable countries to expand their electrification rates and increase access to clean and sustainable energy. However, while this solution has shown a huge potential in energy development, a more homogenised system has been suggested to fast-track Africa’s electrification journey.

An integrated energy system is a process of establishing an innovative model that links energy-consuming sectors to the power grids to create a synergy between energy production and use. Integrated energy systems hold numerous advantages. For instance, the increasing number of solar systems reflects that the awareness of sustainable energy supply is expanding. Moreover, system operators can coordinate consumption and generation through an integrated model to maximise energy and ensure efficiency.

A typical example of an integrated energy system currently operational in Nigeria is that of Konexa Energy. The firm spearheads an integrated distribution concept in partnership with Kaduna Electric and Kano Electric in Northern Nigeria. Their approach involves deploying and operating a combination of grid and off-grid assets to ensure the lowest cost of electrification. Konexa has a target of over 30,000 grid connections across customer segments, alongside 11 mini-grids and 650 solar home systems.

Although the project is still in its early phase, it is expected to balance out the challenge of inadequate electricity and enable distribution companies to have an efficient revenue stream. Likewise, if this model is adopted for other regions, Africa’s energy sector will have a massive potential to bloom.

 

This opinion piece is authored by Ekene Mekwunye, a Research Analyst for The Electricity Hub. It is originally published on the electricity hub

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