Hydropower growth in Africa needs to double to meet IEA projections

The International Energy Agency (IEA) recently launched its Africa Energy Outlook 2022. The report explores how to transform Africa’s energy sector to achieve development goals, and to shift to more affordable and cleaner sources of energy.

The report’s Sustainable Africa Scenario (SAS) states that an additional 40GW of new hydropower is required by 2030 - a doubling of the current capacity. Achieving the SAS will also require a doubling in investment, with 60 per cent of this expected to come from the private sector.

The International Hydropower Association’s (IHA’s) Chief Executive Eddie Rich says that achieving this scenario would represent a dramatic increase in hydropower investment and development.

IHA’s most recent data identifies a pipeline of projects equating to 110GW in the African pipeline through until 2050. However, only 14GW of this is currently under construction.

“The IEA’s report shows the vital role that hydropower can and must play in enabling Africa’s sustainable development. Its Sustainable Africa Scenario shows that an additional 40GW of new hydropower is needed by 2030, with a huge increase in private investment required. However, the pace of development needs to dramatically increase to achieve this.

“To unlock private investment governments and policy makers need to reward the vital low carbon flexibility provided by hydropower. Projects can and must be developed sustainability, with the Hydropower Sustainability Standard providing a benchmark by which to assess projects,” says Mr Rich.

The report says that hydropower remains a cornerstone in the provision of affordable and dispatchable electricity.

The use of natural gas and coal is gradually expected to be replaced by hydropower, wind and solar PV in the years ahead.

Mr Rich says that hydropower’s flexibility and energy storage services will become increasingly important as the shares of wind and solar PV in the power system grow.

“The increase in variable renewables, such as solar PV and wind, in Africa will lead to an increased need for system flexibility and energy storage.

“Sustainable hydropower can provide these services and at an affordable cost – it is a huge untapped resource in Africa,” he says.

According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the cost of electricity from new hydropower projects remains among the cheapest renewable energy sources globally.

Modernising the ageing African Hydropower fleet will also help to meet the IEA’s SAS scenario.

Sixty per cent of the hydropower installed capacity in the region is over 20 years old. To address this, the African Development Bank (AfDB) is undertaking an Africa Hydropower Modernization Program, supported by IHA. This will enable existing plants to increase generation capacity at a low-cost, and with relatively short lead times and minimal environmental impact.

Read more about IHA’s latest data on Africa.

IHA has recently launched a global campaign #WithHydropower to raise awareness about hydropower’s crucial role in meeting climate change targets. Find out more about the campaign and how to take part.

Privacy Policy