The forthcoming African Utility Week will focus on an emerging trend in the energy industry; the growth of community scale off-grid projects that are “starting to make a real difference in the development of the continent.”
The event that is scheduled for May 16-18 in Cape Town, South Africa, will showcase how the continent is coming up with innovative, home-grown solutions to its energy and water challenges and how these are creating exciting and lucrative opportunities for utilities and industry suppliers. It will also showcase the latest innovations and projects in the sectors of renewables, future technology, energy efficiency, micro/off-grid and energy storage.
Evan Schiff, the African Utility Week event director, noted that the power and energy landscape in Africa “is undergoing significant change.”
He added that the current trends include “the availability of private investment for power and energy projects, and the fast development of energy storage, while renewable energy is becoming cheaper and gas is an increasingly attractive mode of power generation in Africa.
“In the next 10 years, nuclear will become an increasingly important mode of base-load power generation,” he said in a statement.
Community scale projects are another important emerging trend in the sector. “Utility-scale developments are decreasing,” said Ahmed Jaffer, the chairman of KPMG South Africa and the head of power and utilities.
“While we see a lot more of community-sized power generation projects, businesses and communities are also showing interest in becoming less dependent on the national grids. In rural Africa, especially, the economics of expanding the national grids do not make sense, hence there is a significant trend towards mini-grids and other off-grid solutions,” Jaffer added.
Investment, trade and development opportunities in the sub-Saharan African electricity sector are estimated at $835 billion of capital investment, $490 billion for generation capacity and $345 billion for infrastructure.
The event will bring together over 7,000 power and water professionals from more than 80 countries, including 30 African nations. During the conference, Energy Revolution Africa, a new platform, will be launched. The body will provide a unique forum for solution providers to meet with the new energy purchasers such as metros and municipalities, independent power producers (IPPs), rural electrification project developers and large power users, including mines, commercial property developers and industrial manufacturers.