There are some parts of the world where reliable electricity simply isn’t available. Whether this is due to poor infrastructure or because renewable energy sources like solar and wind power aren’t prevalent in that region, it’s often the case that this lack of electricity severely limits the quality of life for residents there. How can we expect these people to ever have access to all the resources necessary to improve their lives if they can’t even access electricity in the first place? Here’s how energy storage could help solve Africa’s renewable energy problem.

What’s the Problem?

You can’t run power grids without a steady supply of electricity. The problem is that one-third of people in sub-Saharan Africa still don’t have access to electricity. And, even if they do, their coverage is spotty at best—many times, it might be only 12 hours a day or only for two days per week (and even then it might be unreliable). This means that charging devices can be very difficult and costly. So what to do? Energy storage could help.

Here’s How Energy Storage Could Help

As we discussed above, renewable energy will be key to lowering Africa’s electricity deficit—and, luckily, it’s on an upswing. In 2016, China invested $126 billion in renewable-energy projects; Africa received $55 billion of that investment, a 21% increase from 2015. The International Energy Agency estimates that 39% of people in sub-Saharan Africa live without access to electricity. Only 12% of Kenyans have power at home—one of worst ratios in Africa.

Here Are Some Companies Leading the Charge

To help create a better, more sustainable future for Africa, four companies are playing a leading role in Africa’s renewable energy sector: Melanin Solar, Equatect, Samsung SDI, Red Dot Power and Tesla. These leaders are helping to push forward Africa’s renewable energy revolution by collaborating with communities on micro-grid systems that allow locals to use clean sources of power whenever they want.

This is How Africa Stacks up Against Other Regions Globally

The average person in Africa uses 0.6kWh of electricity per day, compared to an average of 3.7kWh in OECD countries. In fact, 98% of Africans do not have access to reliable grid power or electricity. While Africa does have resources for renewable energy – wind, solar, biomass – only about 20% of potential power is harnessed.

Where will This Transformation Take Place?

Africa is already getting into renewable energy in a big way. Massive new solar plants are going up in Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa. Some countries have now managed to produce power at 10 cents per kilowatt-hour—less than half of what U.S. utilities charge—by harnessing wind power along coastal areas or by using geothermal energy in volcanic regions such as Ethiopia’s Rift Valley.

Adoption of open-source, decentralized technology has the potential to expedite progress in decarbonization programs for the benefit of the planet, resulting in unprecedented levels of creativity and transparency.


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