Friday, December 11, 2015

Is hydropower the right energy solution for Africa?

Ensuring clean and stable energy supply in Africa is certainly one if the most demanding labors of Hercules but nonetheless a thing that must be done to ensure future prosperity of the Black Continent. Is hydropower really the right solution for Africa?

Africa has tremendous hydropower potential with the latest reports claiming that only 7 percent of Africa’s hydropower potential is currently being harnessed, meaning that there is certainly plenty of room for further development on many of African rivers.

Hydropower is connected with high efficiency and low emissions, and is usually very reliable source. Why usually? Because of drought issue, and where else to look for drought issue than in Africa.

Recent African droughts are crippling energy supply in much of the continent. The worst part in the whole story is that future climate change scenarios predict even more droughts, especially in sub-Saharan Africa.

Finding the right energy solution for Africa does not only mean finding cheap, clean energy solution, it also means finding reliable source of energy, and if droughts continue for years to come, hydropower, despite its big potential, is not the solution Africa's been craving for.

The efficiency of hydroelectric dams is heavily dependent on consistent rainfall meaning that one severe drought can easily heavily disrupt energy supply for many African states. In October, for instance, due to heavy droughts, Tanzania produced only 1/8 of normal electricity generated from hydropower.

Thus, solar power might be the better solution for Africa. Africa's sun needs to be harnessed and turned into electricity. Africa's solar power potential is enormous and dwarfs that of hydropower. Hydropower, though proven technology, might not be the right solution for Africa due to frequent drought periods that are likely to become even bigger issue in years to come.