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Renewables set to change Africa’s energy crisis

Johannesburg South Africa, 23 October 2018.

Taru Madangombe, Vice President Energy Business Schneider Electric Southern Africa, reminded delegates at the Sub Saharan Africa Power Summit in Cape Town on 19 October 2018 that, “The power industry is facing unprecedented change. By 2025, traditional centralised utility network models will be complemented by a world of distributed energy (i.e. Renewables), disrupting existing business models.”

In Africa, continued Madangombe, as the concept of renewable energy is gaining a lot of traction and will play a crucial role in providing energy to over 600 million inhabitants that currently do not have access to electricity. We are seeing great developments in most countries in North Africa and East Africa with their massive investments in wind and solar projects. However, although to a lesser extent, there are still challenges associated with access to financing and funding of these projects for local players.

Madangombe also believes that, “one of the biggest challenges facing the renewable energy market right now is energy storage. How do you store energy harnessed during the day when most people do not need it for consumption or for use during peak times, which is normally evening and early morning?” said Madangombe.

Although the initial storage costs were considered, there are new technological developments in the renewable energy market with projections showing that by 2025, the costs for renewable energy technology (including storage) will be reduced and much cheaper than fossil powered energy.

“Schneider Electric is passionate about developing technology that contributes to sustainability and a greener way of doing business. Currently, solar, wind, hydro and biomass are common solutions available to market.

Schneider Electric have already started working with micro-grids, as a solution for rural or remote areas where there are no other alternatives, so I think that we are already in a position to provide access to these communities through various renewable technologies.

“Adoption of renewable technology across the continent has been slow but we must remember that there is a change management aspect to this, as there are many steps involved in moving from traditional coal power plants to wind and solar parks. There is also a trust issue and governments want to be sure that it will work, so I think the more we see these new projects up and running, the more there will be buy in from government,” said Madangombe.

In South Africa, the Minister of Energy has recently signed off R56 billion worth of renewable projects, so while the country may not yet be fully prepared, Madangombe believes that South Africa is taking steps in the right direction. He said that it is critical to have renewables in South Africa’s energy mix, as an integrated resource, as it also addresses greenhouse emissions.

“We believe that access to energy is a fundamental human right and currently in Africa, there are over 600 million people without access. It is important that we make sure we create sustainable access to energy, and I think that decentralisation of the energy grid is key, as it will provide that energy access to even the most remote parts of the continent. We are also facing climate change and renewable energy is the right solution to address challenges with climate change,” said Madangombe.

Following the Summit meeting with different stakeholders from across Africa, Schneider Electric is confident that the continent will be able to address some of the major challenges such as access to energy as a primary need. B2B summits of this nature are so necessary for getting organisations to align on the future goals and possibilities.

“Over time, we will see real developments taking place, as more investment goes into the adoption of new sustainable technologies. Africa is ready, as is Schneider Electric, which has been intentional about upskilling and developing in the area of renewables. There needs to be a continued effort to build partnerships between corporates and governments so that renewable energy solutions will continue to grow across the continent,” concludes Madangombe.

About Schneider Electric
Schneider Electric is leading the digital transformation of energy management and automation in homes, buildings, data centres, infrastructure and industries. With global presence in over 100 countries, Schneider is the undisputable leader in power management – medium voltage, low voltage and secure power, and in automation systems. We provide integrated efficiency solutions, combining energy, automation and software. In our global ecosystem, we collaborate with the largest partner, integrator and developer community on our open platform to deliver real-time control and operational efficiency. We believe that great people and partners make Schneider a great company and that our commitment to innovation, diversity and sustainability ensures that Life Is On everywhere, for everyone and at every moment.

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