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African Utility Week to gather renewable experts in May to show how wind and solar can solve Africa’s energy demands

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DNV GL says DOE’s IPP bids show government‘s strong commitment

Last week’s announcement of the Department of Energy that it has approved 13 new renewable IPP bids “signals the strong commitment of the South African government to continue renewable energy deployment. We encourage the whole sector to anticipate these developments and continue helping South Africa to stabilise its energy sector and solve the load shedding problems”. This is according to Sliman Abu Amara, Area Manager Africa, DNV GL – Energy, a leading global testing, certification and advisory services company that has been working on the largest wind and solar energy projects in Africa, including South Africa, Egypt, Kenya and Morocco.

In South Africa alone, DNV GL has been involved in nine wind projects (including Dorper and Gouda Wind Farms), and one solar project. In Kenya, DNV GL is the engineering partner in the 300MW Lake Turkana project, which will be the single largest wind park in sub-Saharan Africa.

At the upcoming African Utility Week from 12-14 May in Cape Town, the continent’s leading renewable energy project managers, investors and technology providers will gather in Cape Town as part of the largest utility conference and expo in Africa. DNV GL is the exclusive diamond sponsor at the event.

“We have noticed a lot of things happening in the African market, in South Africa, in sub-Saharan Africa and in Northern Africa,” says DNV GL’s Abu Amara. “The African market is ready for the penetration of larger scale renewable energy on the continent.”

Strong solar deployment expected

“Everybody always smiles when you talk about solar in Africa” says Abu Amara, “the continent has abundant sunshine so solar is its most logical choice. There are several projects starting, with South Africa again leading the market. Morocco has developed a few projects and so has Egypt, Other countries are following suit but unfortunately it is still going too slow. And that is despite the fact that during the last decade, solar has become much cheaper.”

Abu Amara notes that “for African utilities to continue attracting investments in solar, they have to solve issues related to grid integration. In 2020, we will see very strong deployment of solar technologies in Africa, like never before.”

Egypt the renewable market to watch

DNV GL also sees Egypt as a renewable energy market to watch: “They are very ambitious in terms of renewable energy with a target of 20% renewable energy in the country. The political instability has caused delays, but the current government is dedicated to enable financing of renewable projects. We see Egypt as a very important market for the renewable energy sector – it is going to be growing very fast.”

Playing role in boosting confidence

According to Abu Amara, DNV GL is very selective about the markets it operates in. “We see a lot of potential in many countries but we are more interested in their governments and the utilities that have to implement the commitments. There has to be political will to do something and improve the situation in their countries. We have established excellent relationships with utilities, with governments, but also with investors and developers. When we arrive in a country as an independent, third party electrical engineering company and start with a pioneering project, we assist the project developer with the technical challenges and boost confidence, making the project visible.”

“We want to be South African in South Africa”

During the upcoming African Utility Week, DNV GL wants to demonstrate its commitment to the development of the power sector in Africa. “We have identified the challenges that this sector faces in these countries through our experiences. We have identified the issue of capacity and we have now developed a strategy to localise in terms of resourcing, working with universities in African countries to empower Africans to make DNV GL localised. We want to be African in Africa and we want to be South African in South Africa.”

The company will also release findings at African Utility Week from a large survey for Africa regarding three dynamics reshaping renewable and grid connection. “We know that renewables and the grid is a complex issue worldwide”, says Sliman Abu Amara. “It is the same in countries such as Germany and the US, but we are also aware of this from our work in South Africa, Tanzania, Kenya, Egypt and Morocco. This is why at African Utility Week, we will announce the results of our survey to develop tailored solutions for African grid challenges, to enable African utilities to connect and integrate more renewables into the grid.”

African Utility Week and Clean Power Africa are organised by Spintelligent, leading Cape Town-based trade exhibition and conference organiser, and the African office of Clarion Events Ltd, based in the UK. 

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