The journey towards the development of renewable energy in oil-dependent African countries is a slow and challenging one. The Republic of Angola is no exception; however, there are grand plans underway to utilize solar energy in Angola.
Angola is an OPEC member and a major oil-exporting nation in sub-Saharan Africa. It is also the third-largest economy in the region. The African country is looking to diversify its power-generating capacity by investing in the renewable energy sector.
Future Plans for Solar Power
For instance, Angola plans to invest in and install 30,000 individual, off-grid solar-power generation systems as well as construct a solar plant that is capable of generating up to 600 megawatts.
Angola is one of the African countries with high solar resource potential. The country has a periodic average global horizontal radiation between 1,350kWh/m2/year and 2,070 kWh/m2/year. Solar energy remains the largest – and uniformly – distributed renewable source of power in the African country.
The most appropriate – and highly affordable – technology to harness renewable or solar energy in Angola is the production of electricity via photovoltaic systems. This technology is presently the fastest when it comes to installation and also has low maintenance costs.
Some bottlenecks and issues are purportedly slowing down the development of solar energy in Angola. This includes:
- Lack of cost-effective tariff or creditworthy utilities
- Macroeconomic governance or forces
- PPAs priced in the local currency which serves little interest in USD PPAs
Impact of Solar Energy in Angola
Renewable energy can make a significant impact in Angola, especially when it comes to supplying power to communities that are currently off-grid. Less than one-third of the population – particularly those in rural, remote, and outlying areas of the country – has access to the national grid.
This is why several photovoltaic projects are underway to enable the functioning of health centers, schools, and police stations in these remote communities.
For instance, 500 solar villages will undoubtedly be installed in off-grid villages and other settlements by 2025. Solar energy in Angola carries the highest potential since it is evenly distributed throughout the nation. And it has over 17 gigawatts of potential energy mapped and also studied by the MINEA.
Joint Venture Partnerships
This is perhaps the reason why independent power producers have started to take an interest in this fossil fuel-producing southern African country. The Italian company, ENI (Ente Nazionale Idrocarburi) and the Angolan national oil, Sonangol joined forces to create another company called Solenova in June 2019.
The primary goal of this joint venture is to develop renewable energy projects created by both oil companies. The first project to be undertaken by Solenova will be the building of a 50-megawatt photovoltaic solar power plant to provide regular or uninterrupted electricity in southern Angola.
Solar energy in Angola will be the source of electricity to 65 percent of the population by 2025. Up to 10 gigawatts is the expected amount of power to be generated.
At present, the nation enjoys only 3.4 megawatts of electricity produced via 1.4 gigawatts of thermal power plants and 2 gigawatts of hydroelectric generation.
There is no doubt that Angola will be a force to reckon with in the solar market in the next few years.