POWER-GEN 2015’s expert advisory board has identified integration of renewable energy into the traditional power ecosystem, universal access to power, and funding and sustainability as key issues to address at Africa’s premier power sector event.
The integration of renewable energy into the traditional power ecosystem, universal access to power and funding and sustainability issues are among the top challenges facing sub-Saharan Africa’s power generation sector in the short-term.
This emerged during a meeting of an expert Advisory Board to assess the most crucial issues facing Africa’s power sector, which will come under discussion at POWER-GEN Africa 2015 in Cape Town in July 2015.
The Advisory Board includes academics, industry body representatives and experts from a number of African countries, with organisations such as the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA,) the Southern African Alternative Energy Association (SAAEA), Eskom, Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP), the Lesotho Highlands Water Commission and CEFA Tanzania among its members.
Nigel Blackaby, POWER-GEN Africa Event Director and Conference Director for PennWell’s International Power Group, said across Africa, regulators and utilities were facing similar challenges in terms of sustainability and service delivery. In addition, many were tasked with an integrated power generation and distribution function, which had prompted PennWell to co-locate POWER-GEN Africa with DistribuTECH Africa, to allow the growing numbers of pan-African delegates to attend both events and so make efficient use of their time.
The Advisory Board, which also assessed abstracts submitted ahead of the conference, noted that a number of key themes were coming to the fore in the African power generation sector. One such theme was funding and investment, they said. With Africa seen as potentially the next big market for independent power producers, questions are arising around regulation, best practice and funding models. In some regions, a cost versus standards debate was emerging as foreign developers entered the African market, they noted.
Renewable energy, which is now seeing strong uptake as the cost of generation drops, is also emerging as a top strategic issue as questions arise around the regulatory environment, integration models and pricing structures, the Board noted. Investors are increasingly looking to projects in Africa, such as the recently-opened 96MW photovoltaic (PV) Jasper Solar Plant near Kimberley, developed by a consortium including Google, and the 160MW Nour 1 thermo-solar plant set to go live in Morocco next year.
Meeting growing power demand through strategies such as the liberalisation of markets, government grants and international development initiatives; as well as new models for controlling the cost of power generation were also important issues the sector is facing.
Other themes impacting the sector now include the interconnection of regional grids and progress towards regional power pools, centralised versus distributed generation models and capacity building in the sector.
The Advisory Board will select papers addressing these and other key issues for presentation at POWER-GEN Africa 2015, where up to 3,000 global thought leaders and stakeholders will convene from 15-17 July 2015 at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, Cape Town, South Africa, under the theme ‘Emerging Opportunities in the World’s Fastest Growing Continent.’
The event, to be hosted by PennWell Corporation, will attract a broad range of delegates, including:
- Regional electricity distribution companies
- Power producers
- Oil and gas companies
- Energy and engineering consultants
- Government and regulators
- Environmental agencies
- Development agencies