Ethiopia is not the first country to pops into minds when it comes to renewable energy. In fact, when thinking about renewable energy in Africa, Ethiopia still isn’t the first country that may come to mind. However, the country relies heavily on hydroelectric power as their primary means of generating electricity due to low fossil fuel reserves within the country. Despite not really being seen as a renewable energy leader in Africa, Ethiopia believes that their country has a remarkable potential to expand their renewable energy and take advantage of the natural resources that are readily available.
According to a study by Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation, the country has the potential to generate an astounding 60,000 megawatts of renewable energy is the country takes full advantage of their natural resources. According to Misikir Negash, the Corporate Communication Chief Officer of the Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation, the 60,000 megawatts of renewable energy can be easily broken down to determine the source of the power. Negash says that the study outlined figures that would allow the country to generate 45,000 megawatts from hydroelectric power, 10,000 megawatts from wind energy and 5,000 megawatts of geothermal energy overall.
Based on current figures, the ability to generate the 60,000 megawatts of renewable energy would be a considerable boost to the current electricity infrastructure in Ethiopia. According to Negash, only forty one percent of Ethiopia is currently plugged into the national electricity network. With these new figures in mind, however, the Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation is hoping to increase the coverage to approximately seventy five percent in the next five years. The increase in coverage is a part of Ethiopia’s overall plan to expand their power generation from around 2,000 megawatts to over 8,000 megawatts in a five year period. To kick off the increase in renewable energy, the nation is also working on a 120 megawatt wind farm with the intention to build sister wind farms in other areas of the country.
As oil prices rise around the globe, Ethiopia is currently feeling the squeeze considering the fact that almost all of the nation’s refined petroleum has to be imported. If the country is able to boost their renewable energy generation upwards to the potential 60,000 megawatts of renewable energy from the variety of resources the financial strain from purchasing refined fossil fuels may be lessened. Of course, this is all assuming that constantly pushing to develop new methods of renewable energy doesn’t end up acting as an added financial strain in the years to come.
Potential and current financial woes aside, Ethiopia is hopeful that their plan to increase their renewable energy and electricity coverage in the next five years will be successful. Once that is completed, and working well, they can look to the future and think about how to best seize that potential.
Article by Richard Cooke, appearing courtesy Justmeans.