The generation capacity of a majority of African electricity supply industries (ESIs) has seen strong growth since the start of the decade, according to the first African Energy Data Book, which was launched at the fifth annual African Investment Exchange: Power and Renewables meeting in London on 14 November.

Across the continent, installed capacity has increased by more than 63% to 236GW since 2010, the data from African Energy show. In sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), capacity at end-2018 is expected to be nearly 50% greater than in 2010.

Supported by Power Africa, the African Energy Data Book has been designed to support industry professionals with 128 pages of comprehensive statistics on the energy mix in each of the continent’s countries and regions. The book will complement the established and hugely popular African Energy Atlas to ensure that up-to-date and reliable information is always at hand.

Key findings and trends

The African Energy Data Book charts a number of key trends in the continent’s ESIs:

  • Natural gas and dual-fuel plants have seen significant growth. In 2010 these plants accounted for 40% of generation capacity, but by end-2018 this will likely increase to nearly 48%.
  • This trend is not restricted to North Africa, where the bulk of gas and dual-fuel plants are located. In SSA, gas and dual-fuel plants are expected to account for 19% of capacity by end-2018, up from around 14% in 2010.
  • By end-2018 coal-fired installed capacity will have grown by 13% since 2010 – and is not expected to peak in capacity terms until 2022, at about 60GW. However, coal-fired capacity has fallen from around 29% of the generation mix in 2010 to 20% in 2018; in SSA, coal’s role has diminished even further, from 47% to 35%.
  • Despite large-scale commitments of finance and investment to solar, wind and other projects, the proportion of renewable energy in the generation mix has actually declined so far in 2018 in all but one region.
  • Installed solar – mostly photovoltaic (PV) – capacity has increased more than 45 times since 2010 and is expected to double again in just two years, reaching as much as 8,711MW by end-2020, from 4GW in 2018. However, by end-2018 it will still only account for 1.8% of Africa’s total generation capacity.
  • Wind capacity is set to nearly double by 2021, increasing from 5.7GW to more than 10GW. It will already be more than five times larger by end-2018 than it was in 2010, but the technology will still represent only 2.4% of installed capacity.Despite promising trends in a few key markets, geothermal and biomass barely register at an aggregate level. However, geothermal development is expanding rapidly: projects progressing in Kenya and Ethiopia mean that geothermal capacity should double by 2020 and could treble by 2023.
  • There has been a spike in the development of liquid fuels (diesel, HFO, and other fuel oils) in North Africa, where plants powered entirely using liquid fuels have increased by 72% since 2010 – despite the region’s abundance of natural gas and renewable resources.
  • In SSA, plants powered entirely by liquid fuel account for 12.4% of capacity in 2018 compared with 10.3% in 2010. (The data do not include the huge number of smaller diesel-fired gensets that still dominate generation in Nigeria and other countries in SSA.)
  • Despite this longer-term trend, in the eight months to 1 September, the proportion of liquid fuels in the generation mix has fallen slightly in all regions other than Southern Africa.
  • The total capacity of projects signing power purchase agreements in Africa has increased from less than 1GW/yr in 2010 and 2011 to 5-6GW/yr in 2016-17.

The authority behind the African Energy Data Book’s projections comes from the giant database underpinning the African Energy Live Data platform. This contains records on more than 5,500 generation projects, which are individually curated and updated by the African Energy. In this process, each figure can be traced back to real developments (rather than from a generalised algorithm or hypothetical policy move). Analysis of the data shows that the last decade’s ESI growth is based on a number of significant trends highlighted below.

We at African Energy have spent a huge amount of time, effort and resources in gathering and checking the underlying data and assembling it in the most useful format for industry participants.  We know they will be as excited as we are to explore the results, and the extra clarity they bring to often opaque markets,” said African Energy Live Data director John Hamilton.

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