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150 countries deliberate on energy transformation at renewable energy conference

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) stated that the global weighted-average cost of electricity declined 26 percent year-on-year for concentrated solar power (CSP), followed by bioenergy (-14%), solar photovoltaic (PV) and onshore wind (both -13%), hydropower (-12%), geothermal and offshore wind (both -1%), the report finds.

The huge gap between the tariff and operating costs have meant that Nigeria’s privatisation of the electricity sector has not delivered improvements in the availability of reliable electricity. This is in part because of the electricity distribution companies inherited a derelict infrastructure from the Nigerian government through the National Electric Power Authority, which was unbundled in 2005 and privatised in 2013.

This presents a big opportunity for renewable energy sources. Solar-based energy, especially when done on a large scale, can contribute to reducing the cost of generating and distributing electricity in Nigeria.

Renewable technologies could also help to develop an electricity market where those producing surplus energy can sell it to those who have a shortfall. Currently, such a market is limited by conventional grid systems. These are designed based on centralised big power plants and a one-way flow of energy from the power plants to the customers.

With its $653 million solar park, Egypt is already ahead of the curve in Africa and is taking advantage of the abundant sunshine it receives thanks to its geographic position in Africa’s largest desert while Nigeria continues to complain about desert encroachment and power outages.

Kenya, East Africa’s largest economy has launched Africa’s biggest wind power plant, a project aimed at reducing electricity costs and dependence on fossil fuels, nudging the nation to meet an ambitious goal of 100 percent green energy in 2020.

The sprawling wind farm of 365 turbines on the shores of Lake Turkana in northern Kenya was designed to boost electricity supply by 13 percent, giving more Kenyans access at a lower cost.

The 10th Assembly of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) got underway this morning, bringing together decision makers from 150 countries. In total, more than 1,500 delegates will participate in the meeting held annually by the world’s lead intergovernmental organisation for the energy transformation.

The 10th Assembly represents a curtain-raiser to a decade in which the world must achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) established by the United Nations and adopt a climate safe energy path. Renewable energy is recognised as playing a central role in the achievement of several goals including energy access (SDG 7), climate safety (SDG 13), sustainable economic growth (SDG 8) and sustainable cities (SDG 11). A report published yesterday by IRENA found that jobs in renewables could reach 40 million by 2050 under a climate-safe energy scenario.

In opening remarks addressing his first Assembly, IRENA Director-General Francesco La Camera, said: “We have ten years left to fulfil the commitment set out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This period will also be decisive for the ability to hold the line on rising global temperatures. Transitioning to clean energy systems is at the heart of these global agendas. And renewable energy increasingly plays a major role in national development and climate strategies.

He continued: “We have renewable energy at our disposal today to make the future more predictable, more prosperous, more inclusive, and more secure. But it is now that we need to make the right decisions, so that the benefits of accelerated deployment can unfold worldwide. We enter the next decade with confidence because of your support and active engagement.”

He concluded: “United behind IRENA’s mission, we are setting the stage for success.”

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