Africa only uses a fraction of renewable energy potential

Nov 25, 2003 01:00 AM

The first global conference on wind energy to be held in Africa opened in Cape Town with delegates saying the power-starved continent is using only a fraction of its potential. German MP Hermann Scheer, who doubles as the chairperson of the World Council for Renewable Energies, said weather conditions in Africa are far more favourable than in Europe or the United States for tapping renewable energy sources. Scheer's keynote address at the start of conference was marked by a strong pitch for wind and solar energy.
"Fossil fuels like crude oil and coal are fast depleting and a mind shift towards large scale use of solar and wind energy has to be made worldwide," he said.

He said wind and solar power plants would be far cheaper than conventional hydro power and grid solutions.
"The [African] continent has great potential to develop these energy sources, because the weather conditions in most parts of Africa are a lot more favourable than in Europe or the US," he said.
The conference is being attended by about 350 delegates from 21 countries. Scheer, who was last year named as the Green Hero by Time magazine, said: "It only takes an area of 2 000 sq km with photovoltaic modules [solar panels] to produce energy for the whole African continent."

South Africa's Minister for Minerals and Energy, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, who officially opened the conference, said the Cabinet will discuss a white paper on renewable energy. She said the country plans to have 10 000 GWh of electricity by 2013 from renewable energy sources.
"South Africa has fair wind resources and the potential capacity for 3 000 MW of electricity coming from wind energy," she said.

Source: Mail and Guardian Online
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