For the African Development Bank’s Energy, Environment and Climate Change Department, transforming Africa means powering a climate-smart and greener continent. It entails supporting transformative infrastructure projects to increase energy access backed by both large-scale and off-grid solutions, promoting sustainable use of natural resources, supporting climate-resilience with concessional climate and environmental finance, and ensuring that all projects comply with international and social best practices.
Some energy projects are large-scale transformative projects. They involve blending public and private capital with the help of concessional climate and environmental finance and diversifying the energy mix to include clean and renewable energy sources such as hydro (e.g Inga in Democratic Republic of Congo), geothermal (e.g. Rift Valley) or wind and solar power (e.g. in Morocco).
In a country where 84% of the population does not have energy access and where geothermal potential is among the greatest in the world, the Menengai geothermal steam field development project will exploit a portion of this potential to provide power to households and businesses. The project is financed by US $121 million from the African Development Fund and US $25 million from the Scaling-Up Renewable Energy Program (SREP), a program of the Climate Investment Funds for which the Bank’s Energy, Environment and Climate Change Department acts as implementing agency. Approved in 2011, the project is expected to be completed in 2016, when the generation capacity comes online. The launch of the exploration and design phase took place mid-2012.
The transformational impacts of the project will be fourfold: (i) to produce a level of energy equivalent to the needs of 500,000 households and 300,000 small businesses; (ii) to eliminate 2 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO₂) emissions annually; (iii) to increase the installed generation capacity of the country by 20%; and (iv) to boost geothermal development in East Africa.
In Morocco, the African Development Bank (AfDB) has been particularly demonstrating its commitment to supporting the scaling up of renewable energy in Africa with the approval, in 2012, of US $900 million in loans to spur private investment in Morocco’s growing wind and solar markets.
The purpose of the Ouarzazate Concentrated Solar Power plant is ultimately to generate a total of 500 MW, utilizing innovative technology while mitigating climate change, supporting the national economy and promoting the export of energy to Europe. The objective is twofold: (i) to improve energy security while lowering the carbon intensity of electricity production, and (ii) to promote clean power generation. The project’s first phase will be developed through a public-private partnership between the Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy (MASEN) and a private partner. Approved in 2012, the project is expected to be completed in 2015. It is financed with US $215 million from the African Development Bank and US $100 million from the Clean Technology Fund (CTF), one of the Climate Investment Funds. The transformational impacts are the following:
- 160 MW of additional CSP generation capacity, thus diversifying the country’s energy sources. They are currently 97% fossil-fuel-based.
- 240,000 tons of CO₂ emissions avoided each year.
- 800 jobs to be created during construction phase and 50 during maintenance phase.
- Contributing to the realization of the commercial viability of concentrated solar power and its potential in the MENA region.