Africa to Add More Renewables in 2014 Than Past 14 Years

Growing demand for electricity and falling costs for wind and solar power mean more renewable-energy projects will be commissioned this year in sub-Saharan Africa than were added from 2000 through 2013.

About 1.8 gigawatts of capacity, excluding large hydroelectric power plants, will be added in 2014, the London-based research firm Bloomberg New Energy Finance said today in a statement. Investment in countries including South Africa, Kenya and Ethiopia is estimated at $5.9 billion this year, and may reach $7.7 billion in 2016. Average annual investment from 2006 through 2011 was $1 billion.

“What is different now is the breadth of activity, with wind, solar and geothermal exciting interest in many different countries, and the potential for further growth,” Victoria Cuming, a Bloomberg New Energy Finance analyst, said in the statement.

Geothermal, wind and both small- and utility-scale solar projects will lead the way as “renewables can represent a cost-effective alternative, particularly compared to diesel generation but also to power stations burning coal or gas,” according to the statement.

About 3.9 gigawatts of renewable energy, mostly wind and solar, is estimated to be installed in South Africa from 2014 through 2016. Over that period, Kenya is expected to add 1.4 gigawatts while Ethiopia will install 570 megawatts of primarily geothermal and wind capacity.

Last month, Seville, Spain-based Abengoa SA received loans of $142 million from the African Development Bank for Xina Solar One, a 100-megawatt, $884 million solar-thermal power project in South Africa. In March, Lake Turkana Wind Power Ltd. secured $650 million in funding for its 310-megawatt wind project in Kenya.

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