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AfDB’s Multi-Country Solar Initiative Pulls in 10 Projects to Benefit the Multitude in the Dark

PARTNER CONTENT

The African Development Bank (AfDB)’s Desert to Power initiative involves 11 countries across Sahelian belt; 250Million people set to benefit with 10, 000MW of solar by 2030.

It is one of the world’s most ambitious energy projects: the Desert to Power initiative aims to bring energy to one of the least developed and most marginal parts of the continent.

This transformative and bold effort aims to turn Africa’s vast, sun-drenched Sahel region – one of the most vulnerable regions in the world – into a powerhouse of solar energy, targeting 11 countries: Burkina Faso, Chad, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, and Sudan.

By harnessing the region’s immense solar potential, Desert to Power seeks to generate 10 gigawatts of solar power by 2030, thereby facilitating access to electricity for 250 million people.

Akinwumi Adesina, the AfDB president, has described it as the Bank’s “baobab”.

“Desert to Power is what I call the baobab of projects. It will require all our efforts if we are to effect change,”​ Adesina told a COP meeting.

In December 2023, the Bank approved the 225 kV Mauritania-Mali Power Interconnection and related Solar Power Plants Development Project (PIEMM) which is a priority operation under that Desert to Power Initiative. The project will help develop regional electricity trade in the Sahel, allow Mali to import about 600 GWh of electricity from renewable energy sources from Mauritania each year and enable both Mali and Mauritania to increase their national electricity access rate and to improve the performance of their electricity sub-sector by reducing fuel consumption, and shutting down several generators with exorbitant operating costs thus reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Ultimately, the project is expected to connect 100,000 new households (80,000 in Mauritania and 20,000 in Mali).

The initiative presents a major step along the way to solving Africa’s critical energy access issues and reducing dependence on fossil fuels like heavy fuel oil. These are key drivers of environmental fragility in the region, worsening climate warming behind many of the dramatic weather events now regularly hitting the continent.

The Bank has also leveraged climate finance from international sources like the Green Climate to blend with the Bank’s own resources to support the Desert to Power initiative.

Additionally, the Bank’s Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa (SEFA), the Bank’s largest in-house blended finance facility with commitments of over $500Million from 10 donors, including Denmark, the United States, the United Kingdom, Italy, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Germany, the Nordic Development Fund, and the Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet, is providing catalytic capital for private sector projects across the Desert to Power countries and beyond.

Today, the Desert to Power portfolio counts 10 investment projects and over 15 technical assistance operations across 7 of the 11 countries of operation.

The initiative is also expected to enhance a broader effort to transition Africa towards more sustainable energy sources, helping mitigate deforestation and its associated impacts.

In Africa, deforestation is a significant issue, with an area equivalent to the size of Switzerland being cleared of forest annually, largely for cooking and heating purposes. This loss of forest exacerbates dust storms, disrupts rain patterns, and accelerates desertification, posing severe threats to biodiversity and local climates.

While there are ongoing reforestation projects in countries like Kenya, Congo, Madagascar, and Malawi, the rate of forest loss far outpaces these efforts. The immediate need is to electrify the continent quickly, choosing sustainable energy sources such as solar, wind, and hydro over more harmful fossil fuels.

Africa’s potential for renewable energy is vast but largely untapped. The continent has an almost unlimited solar capacity (11 TW), significant hydro resources (350 GW, with only between five and six percent currently harnessed), wind power (110 GW, with only two percent utilized), and geothermal energy sources (15 GW).

Despite this potential, the continent accounts for just 6% of global energy demand and slightly over 3% of electricity demand. This underscores the importance of scaling up renewable energy investments to meet the continent’s energy needs sustainably.

From 2016 to 2022, the AfDB approved $8.3Billion in energy commitments, with 87% directed towards renewable energy projects. This investment has already generated 3.4 GW of electricity, including 2.6 GW from renewable sources. The Bank is also developing an African Green Mineral Strategy to capitalize on the continent’s abundant critical minerals, such as cobalt, manganese, and platinum, which are essential for facilitating the energy transition. the entire Sahel region and forever changing the face of one of Africa’s most neglected areas.


Consortium Announces Plan to Build 10,000MW Wind Powered Plant in Egypt

The Egyptian government has approved a proposal by a consortium to develop 10,000 MW wind farm on 3,025 km2 of land in the western Suhag governorate.

Infinity Power, a joint venture between Egypt’s Infinity and Masdar (Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company) is in league with Hassan Allam Utilities, another Egyptian player, for the project.

With the vast parcel of land granted by the Egyptian government further studies can begin, including resource measurement campaigns (wind), geotechnical and topographical studies, as well as environmental studies, all “aimed at ensuring minimal impact on the environment”, according to a statement by Infinity Power.

This mega project could cost as much as $10Billion and should be capable of injecting 47,790 GWh of clean electricity per year into the Egyptian grid, while avoiding emissions of 23.8 Milliontonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent over the same period.

Infinity expects “the 10 GW wind farm to save the country around $5Billion in natural gas costs per year”.

Egypt plans to achieve a 42% share of renewable energies in its electricity mix by 2030, up from 7% in 2023. As part of its strategy, the Egyptian government has also granted land to independent power producers (IPPs) Scatec and Engie for the deployment of 8,000 MW of onshore wind turbines.


Scatec and Engie Secure Land for 8,000W of Renewable Energy Facility in Egypt

Scatec, the Norwegian renewable energy player; Engie, its French counterpart and Orascom Construction, the Egyptian firm,  have secured land from the Egyptian government for the deployment of 8,000MW of wind power for two different projects.

One of them, a 5,000MW project, is to be developed by Scatec. The other, a 3,000MW facility, is a planned joint development by a consortium that includes Engie, Orascom and  Eurus Energy, a Japanese concern.

The two projects are proposed to be sited in the western governorate of Sohag.

Mohamed El-Khayat, Chairman of Egypt’s New and Renewable Energy Authority (NREA) signed the land permits, at a signing ceremony which took place recently in the presence of Mohamed Shaker, Egypt’s Minister of Electricity and Renewable Energy, and Hilde Klemetsdal, Norway’s Ambassador to Egypt.

These two projects represent an investment of $9Billion, according to NREA.

The first memorandums of understanding for the two developments were signed at COP27, hosted by Egypt in 2022. The power is proposed to be injected into the Egyptian Electricity Transmission Company (EETC) grid.

Scatec is a leader o Egypt’s renewable energy programme. It  operates 380 MW of installed solar capacity in the country.

The Engie-Orascom Construction-Eurus Energy consortium already operates a 262 MW wind farm in the Gulf of Suez. In the same region, the three partners are currently building a 500 MW wind farm.

Egypt’s national objective is to produce 42% of electricity from renewable energies by 2030, enabling the country to reduce its dependence on natural gas, the price of which has fluctuated greatly on the international market in recent years, first during the post-Covid-19 recovery, and then after the start of the war in Ukraine.

 

 

 


Jean-Jacques Rousseau in conversation with Shell

By Gerard Kreeft

 Shell’s return to the courtroom in the Netherlands to appeal the 2021 decision, which ruled that the UK major must reduce its CO2 emissions 45% by 2030, is raising eyebrows within the oil and gas industry.

Investors and green activists alike are watching with keen interest.

Shell continues to maintain that the court has no jurisdiction within Shell’s boardroom and that this is a private company matter.

Is that so? Perhaps time to go  back to Jean-Jacques Rousseau.  For Rousseau, writing in the mid-18th century, the notion of the common good, achieved through the active and voluntary commitment of citizens, was to be distinguished from the pursuit of an individual’s private will.

As Rousseau explained, the general will is the will of the sovereign, or all the people together, that aims at the common good—what is best for the state as a whole.

The heart of the matter for Shell is that the company has continued to argue that this is private( company) matter, not one involving the the common good.

Yet the 2016 Paris Climate Agreement, which was signed by 195 countries, agreed to try and prevent an average global temperature rise of under the 2 0C and hopefully 1.5 0C, is the clearest example of a common good.

There are, internationally, some 200 court cases against companies involving climate related issues, according to the Columbia Law School. And to go by the swirl of press reports focused on this case,  all eyes are on what the court in the Netherlands will decide on.

 Shell’s vision

The chief obsession of Wael Sewan, Shell’s CEO since January 2023,  is to drive up the company share price.

Despite his robust efforts, the share price has barely moved—it was $65 at the start of April 2019 vs $64 in February 2024.

In Mr. Sewan’s view, Shell must mimic Chevron and ExxonMobil. While the Shell share price has remained virtually unchanged Chevron has seen its share price in the same period  increase 23 percent and ExxonMobil 25 percent.

Shell’s total capex for the period 2023-2025 is between $22Billion-$25Billion per year, of which some 80 percent is earmarked for hydrocarbons. Not unlike Chevron and ExxonMobil.

Sewan is attempting to change Shell’s narrative: that Shell is in the business of producing hydrocarbons, instead of also selling the illusion that its new energy policy matters. Europe’s oil majors, Including Shell, have seen their share prices flounder. Why? Because of their duality of messaging.  The European oil majors in the period April 2019-February 2024(with the exception of  TOTALEnergies and Equinor), have seen their share prices underperforming badly:

BP  down from $44 to $36;

Eni down from $36 to $31;

TotalEnergies was up from $56 to $65 ;

Equinor was up from $22 to $25.

The messaging of Chevron, ExxonMobil and now Shell is that they are oil companies, much in the tradition of John D. Rockefeller. This clarity of messaging is resonating with Chevron and ExxonMobil  shareholders.

 Alignment with the Paris Accord?

According to Mark van Baal, founder of Follow This Shell’s updated strategy has moved the company even further away from Paris Alignment.  According to van Baal “The ball is now in the investors’ court. They have the voting power to enact change.”
Earlier this year, 27 institutional investors with $4.6Trillion in AUM(assets under management) co-filed a climate resolution with Follow This at the oil and gas major.
Other claims have followed:

In February, environmental charity ClientEarth filed a case with the UK High Court, arguing that Shell’s continued investment in fossil fuel projects was a breach of directors’ duties to promote the company’s best interests.

NGO Global Witness filed a case against Shell in the US, alleging that the firm had misled investors by overstating its investments in renewable energy.

Shell has also faced pressure from Norges Bank Investment Management,  following a series of destructive oil spills in the Niger Delta region.

 Mixed bag

Shell’s updated energy transition strategy confirmed progress on Scope 1 and 2 emission reductions, with the company announcing a 31% decrease as of 2023, compared with 2016 levels – over halfway towards its goal of halving those by 2030.

In addition, Shell had reduced its net carbon intensity across Scopes 1 to 3 by 6-8% by 2023 compared to 2016 levels, though it is targeting a 9-12% reduction by 2024 and a 9-13% by 2025.

Many experts have welcomed Shell’s pledge to reduce customer emissions – also known as Scope 3 – from the use of its oil products by 15-20% by 2030, compared to 2021 levels.

Shell’s Scope 3 emissions amounted to 517 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent last year, down from 569 million in 2021.

Despite this progress, Shell has continued to lay much responsibility for Scope 3 emissions at its clients’ door:

“Reducing the net carbon intensity of the products we sell requires action by both Shell and our customers,” the group said in its 2024 strategy. “While we encourage the uptake of low-carbon products and solutions, we cannot control the final choices customers make.

Support from governments and policymakers is essential to create the right conditions for changes in demand.”

Note:

Essentially, Scope 1 are those direct emissions that are owned or controlled by a company, whereas Scopes 2 and 3 are indirect emissions: a consequence of the activities of the company but occur from sources not owned or controlled by it.

Shell has chosen to scrap its 2035 target to reduce the net carbon intensity of its products by 45%, due to “uncertainty in the pace of change in the energy transition”.

Carbon Tracker’s Maeva O’Connor expressed disappointment that Shell’s strategy focused on emissions intensity, rather than absolute emissions reduction: Intensity targets can be met simply by changing the energy mix in an oil and gas producer’s portfolio,” she explains. “If they add renewables into the mix, their energy intensity comes down – even if they are still producing the same volume of oil and gas, and therefore the same amount of emissions as before.”

 Follow the money

While emissions intensity vs absolute emissions reduction are important indicators of how a company is aligned with the Paris Climate Accord, more telling is a company’s  allotment of its capital budget. This indicates where the real money is being spent.

Shell’s total capex for the period 2023-2025 is between $22Billion-$25Billion per year, of which some 80% is earmarked for hydrocarbons. Not unlike Chevron and ExxonMobil. In other words, these three companies are only earmarking 20% of their annual capital budgets on low carbon solutions.

TOTALEnergies’ capital expenditures for the period 2022-2025 is anticipated to be between $14Billion-$18Billion per year: “a third will be in low-carbon energies, about 30% will be dedicated to the development of new oil and gas projects, and the remainder devoted to maintenance of the hydrocarbon portfolio. In other words, the hydrocarbon budget will be approximately $8Billion-$11Billion and the renewable budget will be $5Billion in 2023. By 2050 TOTALEnergies will be on track to have 50% of its energy mix in renewables + 25% in “new molecules”(green fuels). The remaining 25% would be comprised of oil and gas including LNG.

Equinor has indicated that it will be spending more than one-half of its capital spending on low carbon energy by 2030 to become a leader in offshore wind technology.

Conclusion + Final Remarks

It’s painful to watch the ensuing drama knowing full well how it will end. The end game will see Rousseau’s common good prevailing. Perhaps the court will seek some minor compromises to appease Shell—but the message will be that the stick instead of the carrot will be Shell’s outcome—if it does not meet its 2030 goals.

Such a message is also a sobering one to the oil and gas industry shareholders and investment community.

Gerard Kreeft, BA (Calvin University, Grand Rapids, USA) and MA (Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada), Energy Transition Adviser, was founder and owner of EnergyWise.  He has managed and implemented energy conferences, seminars and university master classes in Alaska, Angola, Brazil, Canada, India, Libya, Kazakhstan, Russia and throughout Europe.  Gerard has Dutch and Canadian citizenship and resides in the Netherlands.  He writes on a regular basis for Africa Oil + Gas Report, and contributes to IEEFA(Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis). His book The 10 commandments of the Energy Transition is now on sale at  Bookstorehttps://books.friesenpress.com/store/title/119734000211674846/Gerard-Kreeft-The-10-Commandments-of-the-Energy-Transition

 


The Lobito Corridor: A Highway to Heaven or  Hewers of Wood and Drawers of Water?

By Gerard Kreeft

Is the Lobito Corridor, which traverses 1,300 kilometres east through Angola from the Atlantic Ocean coast to theborder with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and within easy reach of the Zambian border becoming a neo-colonial route for the transport of critical raw materials (CRMs) for China, Europe and the USA?

Will the countries who are investing in this corridor behave differently than, for example, the oil and gas industry who have left behind a checkered track record?

A case of beads and trinkets?

If the past is any indication of what to anticipate, Africa be forewarned!

Present Situation

The race is on to ensure that CRMS can be mined, transported and be used in

the products of the EV (electric vehicle) battery value chain. Certainly, the transportation of CRMs—namely the Lobito Corridor—has proven to be the missing link.

Angola Participation

THE Angolan government signed a 30-year concession with a consortium including Trafigura, Mota-Engil Engineering and Construction Africa, and Vecturis, Belgium, to operate rail services and offer logistical support for the Lobito corridor, which runs from Luau on the eastern border with Democratic Republic of Congo to Lobito Port on the Atlantic Coast.

The consortium will be responsible for the operation, management and maintenance for the transport of goods, minerals, liquids and gases. The consortium has agreed to invest “significant capital in improving the capacity and safety of the corridor” as well as invest in rolling stock for operation.

The group confirmed that it will spend $100Million in the initial concession premium, $170Million for infrastructure, and $170Million for rolling stock. The concessionaire will pay $319.4 million to the Angolan state in the first 10 years of the contract, $787 million in the second 10 years, and $919 million in the final 10 years.

African Development Bank and Donor Countries

The African Development Bank, together with the United States government, the European Commission, the Africa Finance Corporation (AFC), and the host governments of Zambia, Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), to mobilize resources for the Lobito Corridor and the Zambia-Lobito rail line.

The works entail the construction of approximately 550 kilometres of rail line in Zambia from the Jimbe border to Chingola in the Zambian copper belt and the 260 kilometres of main feeder roads within the corridor.

The hope is that the programme will expand an economic corridor connecting the host countries to global markets to enhance regional trade and growth, and to advance the shared vision of connected, open-access rail from the Atlantic Ocean to the Indian Ocean. The Bank plans to contribute approximately $500Million to the project through a blend of sovereign and non-sovereign instruments, including concessional allocations.

Expectations are high. Amos J. Hochstein, Deputy Assistant to President Joe Biden for Energy and Investment stated:

“Demonstrating the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment in action and leveraging both Western and African capital, this strategic transport infrastructure unlocks regional trade and enables additional investments in digital connectivity, agriculture value chains, green energy supply chains and rural health centre electrification, among other transformative economic imperatives”.

The Chinese Connection

According to E. D. Wala Chabala, an Independent Economic Policy and Strategy Consultant and MBA Lecturer, there are several challenges to developing the Lobito Corridor:

“…not only are the Chinese ubiquitously present on the African continent, but China is already far ahead in building supply chains for cobalt, lithium, and several other essential metals and minerals. …It is also not insignificant that China signed MoUs with most African countries a decade ago. The fruit of some of these are infrastructure developments that have already been rolled out on the continent through the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).”

Hardships to Overcome

Chabala notes that ” EV battery value chain is not only complex, with almost 300 players already involved and regionalization being a big factor, but that the EU and the US are not currently leaders in EV technology. It is reported that almost 90% of cell component manufacturing, the most significant step in the battery value chain – 30% of players in the six-stage value chain are concentrated here – is undertaken in Asia.”

He adds that “ two major European car manufacturers have recently been reported to have acquired stakes in Chinese EV manufacturers to gain access to their EV technology”. Plus, “the largest Chinese EV manufacturer, BYD, has surpassed Tesla in terms of EV production as per the Q4 2023 figures. Both TESLA and BYD are also major players in EV battery technology.”

Local Content

The DRC produces 51% of the world’s cobalt, and no longer wants to have the sole role of only being a raw material supplier. Instead, it wants to build its own battery supply chain in the country; also, a battery factory is being considered.

The first step, however, is the construction of a pilot plant for the production of cobalt precursors for cathode production. Also, a complete battery cell factory is being considered.

A Bloomberg NEF study investigated the feasibility of establishing special economic zones for manufacturing battery precursors in the DRC and Zambia: costing $2.7Billion. Such a facility in the DRC would be three times cheaper than it would cost to building a similar plant in the USA because of cost competitiveness and proximity to raw materials.

EU + DRC strategic partnership

Recently the EU and the DRC signed a strategic  partnership. Both parties express commitment to sustainable development, local value addition and respecting each other’s rights in extending raw materials and net-zero technologies value chains within their countries.

The partnership covers non-energy and non-agriculture raw materials along the entire value chain, with a primary focus on strategic and critical raw materials. Five areas of collaboration are identified:

  1. Integration, where feasible, of (critical) raw materials and renewable hydrogen value chains, including networking, new business models and promotion and facilitation of trade and investment linkages.
  2. Mobilization of funding for the development of infrastructure required for project development.
  3. Co-operation to leverage environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria and align with international standards, including through increased due diligence and traceability.
  4. Co-operation on research and innovation along the raw materials value chain.
  5. Capacity building to enforce laws and regulations and increase training and skills.

On the same day, the European Union announced a similar MoU with Zambia and a separate MoU with the Angola, DRC, the United States, Zambia, the African Development Bank, and the Africa Finance Corporation to support development of the Lobito Corridor, which would connect the mining regions in Southern DRC and Northern Zambia to ports in Angola to facilitate export of raw materials.

Future Chinese and US Challenges

To date, 52 African governments signed Memorandums of Understanding (MoU) with China regarding the BRI and the initiative has translated into billions of dollars invested in the construction of critical infrastructure for railways, roads and ports. Chinese FDI in Africa remains much higher than Western nations.

In recent years the competitive edge has shrunk. An economic slowdown post-pandemic and weakening lending capabilities have caused BRI-related investment to fall from a peak at $125Billion in 2015 to $70Billion in 2022.

Due to increasing concerns about the risk of debt distress in various African nations and internal economic challenges in Beijing, the Chinese government has decided to halt funding for energy projects in Africa. This has led to a significant decline in lending to the continent, bringing it to below $1Billion, the lowest in approximately two decades.

The USA’s late involvement is the Lobito Corridor is an attempt to foster economic development, create job opportunities, and build lasting partnerships that can serve both African nations and US interests. Probably too little too late.

Yet the Chinese presence continues to be omnipresent and dominant throughout the continent.

Some Final Remarks

It is claimed that the Lobito Corridor Transit Transport Facilitation Agency Agreement (LCTTFA) – signed by the governments of Angola, the DRC, and Zambia – will accelerate domestic and cross-border trade along the Corridor and foster the participation of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in value chains. While the intention is clear, specific goals and strategies for industrial development are not.

Have the governments of Angola, the DRC and Zambia initiated studies and strategies to ensure economic harmony and plans for growth? On a country and regional basis?

The irony is that western countries are enjoying the benefits of their EVs, priding themselves on their progress in furthering the energy transition. Based on what? Battery technology—cobalt produced mostly in the DRC and sent onward ore for processing abroad.

To date few signs of added value.  While plans exist to design and set up battery value chains within the region there are few visible signs that indicate any urgency in this direction.

EV technology as is presently implemented has little to do with a serious contribution towards the energy transition. While EV technology is fast becoming commonplace, the value chain for production of CRMs has exposed some gaping holes—namely that Africa is again slated to become a Hewer of Wood and a Drawer of Water.

Gerard Kreeft, BA (Calvin University, Grand Rapids, USA) and MA (Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada), Energy Transition Adviser, was founder and owner of EnergyWise.  He has managed and implemented energy conferences, seminars and university master classes in Alaska, Angola, Brazil, Canada, India, Libya, Kazakhstan, Russia and throughout Europe.  Kreeft has Dutch and Canadian citizenship and resides in the Netherlands.  He writes on a regular basis for Africa Oil + Gas Report, and guest contributor to IEEFA(Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis). His book ‘The 10 Commandments of the Energy Transition ‘is on sale at https://books.friesenpress.com/store/title/119734000211674846/Gerard-Kreeft-The-10-Commandments-of-the-Energy-Transition

 

 

 


French Developer Gets Financing For 240MW Hybrid Renewable Project in South Africa

By Toyin Akinosho, in Lagos

French independent power producer, Engie, has, together with its partners, made it to financial close for the Oya Energy project in the Western and Northern Cape Provinces of South Africa.

The hybrid renewable energy project involves the construction of a 155 MWp solar photovoltaic park and an 86 MW wind farm on the same site. The output of both power plants will be supported by a 92 MW/242 MWh battery storage system.

Oya is being developed under the South African government’s Independent Power Producers’ Risk Mitigation Procurement Program (RMIPPPP).

The facility is expected to be up and running by December 2025.

Engie owns 35% of the project, with partners including ’s partners including Meadows Energy (22.5%) Perpetua Investment Holdings (22.5%) and G7 Renewable Energies (20%).

The electricity produced will be fed into the grid of the state-owned utility Eskom, under a 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA) signed in 2023 and an Implementation Agreement with the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy in South Africa. Once operational, the Oya Energy Hybrid Project will provide essential dispatchable energy to the South African grid.. According to estimates,

“This project represents the blueprint of a carbon neutral, 100% renewable future power grid – dominated by solar PV, supplemented by large amounts of wind power and storage capacity for balancing surpluses and shortfalls to provide all the power our economy needs without resorting to any fossil fuels”, declares Kilian Hagemann, CEO of G7.

“It’s the first time that renewables are providing baseload power.”

The Oya Energy hybrid plant will be able to avoid emissions of 573,105 carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2) per year. It will be capable of powering 180,000 South African homes.

 


Is Energy Transition the Investment Megatrend of 2024?

The energy transition could be one of the investment megatrends this year and beyond as the world’s leading economies move to an era of interest rate cuts.

Central banks around the world continue to hold rates steady for the time being, but with growing expectations that they will begin to cut them in the first half of this year.

“Investing in renewable energy infrastructure, such as utility-scale solar and wind farms, demands significant upfront capital”, says Nigel Green CEO of deVere Group, a large, independent financial advisory, asset management and fintech organisations.

“As such when interest rates are high, the return on investment for these projects can be adversely affected, leading developers to hesitate and potentially put new projects on the back burner.

“Beyond the large transitional projects, the industrial sphere has been delving into alternatives to traditional fuels with lower carbon footprints, such as the amalgamation of hydrogen with natural gas. This strategic shift is motivated by a dual concern for both environmental preservation and economic viability.

“However, in times marked by elevated borrowing costs, the emphasis tends to pivot more towards economic considerations, potentially impeding the pace of investments in environmentally-friendly technologies.

“Likewise, the transport sector, poised for advancements in electric vehicles (EVs), hydrogen-powered vehicles, biodiesel, and compressed natural gas, has encountered difficulties in rationalising new projects amid heightened interest rates.”

In addition, escalating interest rates have placed added strain on consumers. The allure of embracing electric vehicles or delving into residential solar investments dwindles in the face of elevated borrowing expenses.

“For consumers, the financial repercussions of these choices become more conspicuous, potentially influencing the pace at which sustainable technologies are embraced.”

Despite the obstacles encountered, a positive outlook persists for the transition towards sustainable energy. “The enduring validity of the long-term investment perspective is underscored, with companies maintaining their dedication to environmental objectives, and governments worldwide offering financial backing to facilitate the transition,” notes Nigel Green.

Looking ahead to the rest of 2024 and beyond, the narrative is likely to shift.

The deVere CEO concludes: “The energy transition has been hit by high interest rates and inflation.

“But now the stage appears to be set for an upward trajectory in energy transition investments.

“This, together with global commitments to environmental sustainability intensifying, 2024 could see the start of an energy transition investment megatrend.”

-ENDS- Is Energy Transition the Investment Megatrend of 2024?

The energy transition could be one of the investment megatrends this year and beyond as interest rates are likely to be cut, says the CEO of one of the world’s largest independent financial advisory, asset management and fintech organisations.

The comments from deVere Group’s Nigel Green come as central banks around the world continue to hold rates steady for the time being, but with growing expectations that they will begin to cut them in the first half of this year.

He says: “Investing in renewable energy infrastructure, such as utility-scale solar and wind farms, demands significant upfront capital.

“As such when interest rates are high, the return on investment for these projects can be adversely affected, leading developers to hesitate and potentially put new projects on the back burner.

“Beyond the large transitional projects, the industrial sphere has been delving into alternatives to traditional fuels with lower carbon footprints, such as the amalgamation of hydrogen with natural gas. This strategic shift is motivated by a dual concern for both environmental preservation and economic viability.

“However, in times marked by elevated borrowing costs, the emphasis tends to pivot more towards economic considerations, potentially impeding the pace of investments in environmentally-friendly technologies.

“Likewise, the transport sector, poised for advancements in electric vehicles (EVs), hydrogen-powered vehicles, biodiesel, and compressed natural gas, has encountered difficulties in rationalising new projects amid heightened interest rates.”

In addition, escalating interest rates have placed added strain on consumers. The allure of embracing electric vehicles or delving into residential solar investments dwindles in the face of elevated borrowing expenses.

“For consumers, the financial repercussions of these choices become more conspicuous, potentially influencing the pace at which sustainable technologies are embraced.”

Despite the obstacles encountered, a positive outlook persists for the transition towards sustainable energy. “The enduring validity of the long-term investment perspective is underscored, with companies maintaining their dedication to environmental objectives, and governments worldwide offering financial backing to facilitate the transition,” notes Nigel Green.

Looking ahead to the rest of 2024 and beyond, the narrative is likely to shift.

The deVere CEO concludes: “The energy transition has been hit by high interest rates and inflation.

“But now the stage appears to be set for an upward trajectory in energy transition investments.

“This, together with global commitments to environmental sustainability intensifying, 2024 could see the start of an energy transition investment megatrend.”

 

-ENDS-


Energy Transition: Africa Must Rethink Problems, Solutions Prescribed by Developed Countries

By Lukman Abolade, Senior Correspondent

Omar Farouk Ibrahim, Secretary General of African Petroleum Producers’ Organization (APPO), says that Africa must rethink the identified problems and solutions prescribed by developed countries in order for the continent to reach its full potential.

“Africa should be original in analysing our situation, take critical look at where we are today and see if the prescription that we are getting from the developed world are the cures for our ailments”. Ibrahim said at a Pan African Oil & Gas conference held in Lagos, Nigeria.

“We ask for example about the global energy transition, who are behind the global paradigm shift, from fossil to renewable energies?”, the APPO chief asked the delegates at the 8th edition of the Sub-Saharan Africa International Petroleum Exhibition and Conference (SAIPEC 2024) organized by the Petroleum Technology Association of Nigeria (PETAN).

“At what point did they got to know about the dangers of fossil fuels? What are they doing to ensure energy security for their own population, what are they asking us to do to ensure energy security for our own people during the transition and after, what are they promising us? These are questions I think need lots of critical analysis, we should not be gullible by just accepting whatever we are told as solutions”.  He said that “answers to these questions will open our eyes to the need for a complete re-evaluation of how best to identify and protect our collective interests as a continent with over 600Million people who have no access to electricity,”

Ibrahim’s audience included Gbenga Komolafe, Chief Executive of the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC), Estevao Pale., Chairman of Mozambique’s state hydrocarbon company Empresa Nacional de Hidrocarbonetos (ENH), represented by the Abdulmalik Halilu, Director, Monitoring and Evaluation, at the Nigerian Content Development Monitoring Board (NCDMB), who delivered an address from  Felix Omatsola Ogbe, Executive Secretary, NCDMB, aNick Odinue, President PETAN and some 300 delegates from Uganda, Liberia, Mozambique, Senegal, Brazil, United States and Nigeria.

Ibrahim added that to survive the global energy transition, there is a need for Africa to adopt a new business model. “Africa needs a new energy business model to survive the energy transition, if we go the way the developed countries are directing us to go, we will remain second and third class players in the industry, even in our own countries”.

Austin Avuru, the Chairman of AA Holdings provided an unusual insight to the rise for the call for energy transition, dating it to the Yom Kippur War in 1973 which forced the Arab Oil Embargo, leading  to severe episodes of inflation in countries like the United Kingdom and the United States of America due to scarcity of fossil fuel.

“Energy transition did not start in Paris, it started in 1973, so large scale funding was then directed into renewables to make sure that in a period of time beyond that 1973, the basket of energy available to the Western world will consist of oil and gas and other things that they could control. The 2015 landmark Paris agreement just brought what had started 40 years earlier into the right context that made it so easy to champion energy transition.

“Fast forward to 2021 after the Paris agreement, a number of geopolitical events had just happened, the Russia-Ukraine crisis was just starting, it became clear to all that most of the components of the renewable energies were coming from China, so the Western world is caught in a quagmire between dependent on OPEC oil or dependence on China for renewable energy. Very difficult choice to make. By the time we got to COP 26, COP 28, the language of energy transition had changed, it’s no longer to hell with fossil fuel, it is now energy is energy.

Avuru argued that “the world needs a basket of energy sources to survive, none of it is dirty, we want it to be as clean as possible, the name of the game is geopolitics. What does this mean for Africa? The name of the game is energy security. Energy plays a critical role in driving economic growth, therefore energy transition cannot, for Africa compromise energy security. Therefore we cannot throw away what we have, climate change is an existential threat, true but perhaps for us, a bigger existential threat is institutional poverty, hunger, disease and conflicts, all signs and symbols of under development and poverty. They are bigger existential threat to us than climate change.

. “Therefore what we have we must keep, what we have, we must optimise its value and therefore for us in Africa, we have to ramp up our oil and gas production, just like Commission Chief executive said, we have to drive down our cost and be more efficient and more competitive. We have sufficient refinery capacity, if we are going to double our internal consumption, we have to double our refining capacity. We have to use our oil and gas resources to optimise our manufacturing industrial capacity. We have to intensify our gas to power projects and other uses of gas”.

In 2021, global carbon dioxide emissions totalled approximately 37.12Billion tonnes, more than half of all carbon emissions are produced by the wealthiest 10 percent of the world’s population.

Africa’s carbon emissions are notably lower compared to other continents. China leads as the world’s largest polluter with 11.47Billion tonnes, followed by the United States (5Billion tonnes), India (2.7Billion tonnes), Russia (1.75Billion tonnes), and Japan (1.07Billion tonnes).

Despite comprising about 17 percent of the world’s population, Africa contributes only 4 percent of global carbon emissions, amounting to 1.45Billion tonnes.

Avuru further contented that over 600Million Africans have no access to electricity, which represents over 100Billion dollar opportunity for investors across Africa. While 920Million Africans have no access to clean cooking and 680Million of them cannot afford it, it also represents 9-12Billilon dollar opportunity.

Gbenga Komolafe, Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) said Nigeria can produce 2.26Million barrels per day of crude oil (2.6MMBOPD), adding that while the current quota of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) for Nigeria is 1.5MMBOPDthe commission has embarked on some strategies to boost the nation’s crude oil production.

He said, “The oil reserves and gas reserves in Nigeria respectively represent 30% and 34% of the African oil and gas reserves. Although the actual national production currently averages 1.33 Million barrels of oil per day and 256,000 barrels of condensate per day, the national technical production potential currently stands at 2.26MillionBPD, and the current OPEC quota is 1.5MillionBPD.

“Thus, the Commission is taking strategic measures to arrest some challenges confronting us to boost production and meet the potential.


COP28: Continuing the Fossil Fuel Conversation

By Godswill Ihetu

The Conference of Parties (COP) is an annual UN climate and nature summit, usually attended by heads of governments with the aim of arresting and controlling global warming and climate change.

COP28 closed in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on 12th December 2023, after two weeks of deliberations and negotiations.

In a speech delivered at the closing of the conference, Simon Stiel, the UN’s Climate Change Executive Secretary, declared:“We didn’t turn the page on the fossil fuel era, but ‘the outcome is the beginning of the end’ of the fossil fuel era.

Mr. Stiel’s conclusion highlights part of the final statement at COP28 which includes calls for accelerating efforts towards the phase-down of unabated coal power, phasing out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies, and other measures that drive the transition away from fossil fuels in energy systems, in a just, orderly and equitable manner.

Oil-producing countries  opposed the idea of “phasing down” fossil fuels production, fought very hard to remove the “phasing down” and “phasing out” language from an earlier draft statement. The Secretary of OPEC, Haitham Al Ghais, called on OPEC members and allies to proactively reject any language that targeted “fossil fuels” rather than “emissions.”

“Phasing down” or “phasing out” of oil and gas is a major issue for Nigeria as oil and gas production contributes significantly to country’s foreign exchange earnings and revenues in general. Any “phasing down” or “phasing out” of oil and gas in the near to medium term will significantly affect Nigeria’s economic development.

NNPC, the Nigerian state hydrocarbon firm, has often said that Nigeria will not be transiting away from hydrocarbons, meaning oil and gas in this case. Africa’s largest economy needs oil and gas revenues to be able to invest in the transition to clean and green energy. The NNPC’s Group CEO, at  COP28, maintained the position that the African continent needed “a just, differentiated transition to enable it harness its resources for today, for the benefit of its future generations” in a continent where 75% of the population do not have access to electricity.

Recognizing that coal is the single biggest contributor to climate change, COP26 in 2021 agreed to reduce or “phase down” the use of coal for power generation. There was no statement on phasing down or phasing out oil and gas. In addition, much to the delight of the oil and gas industry, there was no decision to halt new investments in the industry, in spite of pressure to do so from some shareholder and environmental activists prior to COP26. Most of the oil majors said then that it would be a mistake to halt oil and gas investments. They insisted that fossil fuels, especially oil and gas, would remain the main source of global energy mix for decades to come, seeing that fossil fuels currently contribute about 80% to global primary energy consumption.

COP27 was held in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt last year. It was tagged the “African COP” because of a number of Africa related agenda issues debated. There were two main takeaways that were issues of major concern for Africa and Nigeria, namely, the decision to set up a climate loss and damage fund and the resolution “phasing down” rather than “phasing out” the burning of fossil fuels. On the latter, some delegates accused Egypt, which was host and president of COP27, of producing a text that “protects oil and gas petro-states and the fossil fuel industries,” Egypt being one of them. African countries vigorously argued that they must be allowed to continue producing their gas assets. African leaders emphasized the need for funds to exploit Africa’s extensive gas reserves to generate electricity in a continent where about 600Million people have no access to electricity. African delegates argued that the continent’s emissions were less than 4% of global emissions and saw no reason why they should pay for the acts of commission by developed countries which have used fossil fuels to industrialize their economies over a period of two centuries, and therefore should bear heavier responsibility for achieving the global target of limiting temperature increase. They argued that natural gas can strategically be used to maximize Africa’s well being and for a “Just and Affordable Energy Transition,” and insisted that energy sources have to be accessible, available and reliable, and natural gas ticks all these boxes.

African leaders insist that for the resource poor countries of the continent, poverty reduction, energy security and economic development have priority over de-carbonization. Fyrthermore, African countries were opposed to phasing down fossil fuels especially as more and more oil and gas reserves are being discovered in many African countries.

The lobby against fossil fuels was so strong at COP 27 that when Sultan Al Jaber, CEO of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), was designated the President of the just concluded COP28 in Dubai, his appointment faced much opposition. Many climate change activists felt that it was wrong to appoint someone who is deeply steeped in the oil and gas industry, the very industry that is largely responsible for dangerous emissions that damage the environment. To the critics, Al Jaber responded that “the world needs all the solutions it can get. It is oil and gas and solar, and wind and nuclear, and hydrogen, plus the clean energies yet to be discovered, commercialized and deployed.”

Now fast forward to the COP28 debate on fossil fuels..  Of note is the fact that China, the US and India are the top three largest emitters of greenhouse gases, and are responsible for about 42% globally.

The irony in all of this is that while some of the wealthy countries are promoting the phase down of fossil fuels, following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, some countries in Europe have reactivated coal mines that had been closed for years. The US and UK have also awarded new oil and gas exploration licenses this year, while the US remains the largest oil and gas producer in the world. There is a lot of mixed messaging here.

Nigeria must pursue increase in oil and gas production while also investing in clean energy as stipulated in its Energy Transition Plan, in order not to be left behind in the global quest for cleaner energy sources. It is certain that the role of oil and gas will decline in the long term while renewables will increase. Oil and gas currently contribute 80% of the world’s energy mix, and the question remains how quickly the world will be able to ramp up renewable energy sources to levels that would reduce the contribution of fossil fuels significantly. At COP 28, members were encouraged to treble investments in renewables. For Africa and Nigeria, in order to comply, funding remains an issue and pledges by rich countries since 2009 remain largely unmet. The pledges made at COP28 towards the new loss and damage fund for financial assistance to less developed countries was disappointing.

Dr. Godswill Ihetu is a former Group Executive Director, NNPC and former CEO, Nigeria LNG. His Memoir: From Oloibiri to Bonny; My Life and Insights from Rising and Leading in the Nigerian Petroleum Industry was published by Kawe Books in June 2022. He will be contributing to www.africaoilgasreport.com from time to time.


Building Capacity for Africa’s Renewables Sector

By NJ Ayuk

One of those hurdles will be preparing domestic workforces for employment and leadership in the growing renewable energy sector

Consider this paradox: Nigeria has achieved the largest economy in Sub-Saharan Africa, but 45%, or about 85Million, of its residents still live without electricity. Across Sub-Saharan Africa, that figure looms to 600Million.

I believe renewable energy is part of the solution to this dilemma —throughout the sub-continent. But there are several hurdles to be cleared before wind, solar, hydrogen, and other clean energy sources can provide the same economic benefits that natural gas — the other part of the solution — already offers. One of those hurdles will be preparing domestic workforces for employment and leadership in the growing renewable energy sector.

We are seeing movement in that direction. In Nigeria, for example, global renewables-promoting nonprofit, RMI, is providing technical training in partnership with four Nigerian energy distribution companies, two developers, and vocational training schools such as RMI’s Energy Transition Academy and the Lagos Energy Academy. Aimed at producing leaders and energy entrepreneurs, the Nigerian Cohort of RMI’s Global Fellowship Programme, started in 2022, uses online learning and in-person experiences to develop leaders who know how to produce and employ solar PV, battery storage, and microgrid technologies.

We will need many, many more efforts like this for Africans to fully reap the economic benefits of our energy transition. For that to happen, more investment capital must be attracted for curriculum development, to support training efforts, and to help fledgling renewable businesses find their footing.

This is a critical topic. Africa Must be Proactive in Building Capacity.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) predics that 4Million new renewable energy jobs will be needed in sub-Saharan Africa by 2030 to meet 2050 net-zero goals. But it is not a given that those positions will be filled by Africans, especially if we rush forward with our transition from fossil fuels to renewables, as many wealthy nations and environmental groups are demanding.

Currently, there is a significant shortage of qualified human resources — people educated and prepared to take advantage of the opportunities for employment and entrepreneurship that renewables offer.

What’s more, only 76,000 renewable energy jobs have been created in Africa, less than 1% of 10.3Million globally. That means the vast majority of Africans have absolutely no experience, or hands-on opportunities to develop skills, in green energy.

Education is Key

Turning this situation around begins with investing in and emphasizing the importance of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education at all levels in Africa.

African governments will need to do their part by driving improvements in all-around education in science and technology and green energy vocational programs.

Government policies should also provide advantages to attract private-sector visionaries and incentivize public-private collaborations that foster the education and training of Africans for career-level, leadership positions in the renewables sectors.

Africa’s renewable energy sector is growing. That reality is a mixed blessing because of the shortage of homegrown, trained professionals able to create, construct, and run renewable projects. We do, however, have an advantage — our large, youthful demographic.

Many of our young people need jobs, and many more soon will. If we can put together partnerships among governments, learning facilities, and private industry, we can train our youth for careers in renewable technologies that offer them brighter futures.

We should be building on the examples of the promising educational opportunities that are available for African students who want to build a career in renewable energy. Here is a sampling:

The Atlas of Green Hydrogen Generation Potentials in Africa, a German-African partnership, says that  “green hydrogen offers a real chance to launch a development in Africa, which is driven by African countries themselves.” As part of the effort, a master’s degree programme in green hydrogen technologies was begun in 2021. Students from all 15 countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) may apply. Universities in Cote d’Ivoire, Niger, Senegal, and Togo host the programme.

Green People’s Energy for Africa,  another German government initiative,  “supports vocation training institutes and technical universities to offer new and improved practical training modules for professionals” as well as other methods for skills development in renewable energy technology.

An EU-US cooperative agreement supports sub-Saharan Africa’s just transition to green energy. Working at the regional and national levels, efforts include empowerment of women in the sector, knowledge sharing to provide technical assistance, and the leveraging of investments by the private sector.

Another Opportunity: Green Hydrogen

Surveying the renewables horizon, there is general agreement that decarbonizing all the world’s economic sectors won’t be possible without the use of green hydrogen — for feedstock, fuel cell technology, and electric vehicles.

The demand for this clean and adaptable fuel, produced with renewable energy sources, compounds the need for a trained renewable energy workforce.

Green hydrogen presents both a large opportunity and a large challenge for African nations. With its massive area and plentiful solar and wind resources, Africa could potentially be producing about 10% of the world’s green hydrogen by 2030. But there is an “if” attached to that projection.

If African states strategize and invest now to develop a green hydrogen workforce, they can be ready for the coming wave of green hydrogen development and utilization. Hydrogen learning opportunities should be made available from the high school level upward as part of comprehensive skills plans for developing a prepared workforce.

With forethought and smart implementation, young Africans can be readied to lead the way in bringing the benefits of green hydrogen to their communities. In the process, job shortages can be mitigated as these young employees put their skills to work in the production, storage, and transportation of green hydrogen.

More African countries should be taking measures to ensure their people and businesses capitalize on green energy opportunities. And these must not stop with education and skills training; we also need local content measures to help ensure our residents benefit from renewable power projects and facilities operations.

Ensuring Strong Local Content Policies

Just as local content rules continue to function as vital safeguards in African oil and gas operations, they will be tremendously important in the renewables sector, both for individuals and for businesses. As I’ve stated in the past, every nation needs to create a framework that empowers indigenous companies to fully capitalize on renewable energy opportunities.

There are times when power needs may justify temporary modifications to these policies. As an example, South Africa’s National Energy Crisis Committee (NECOM), early in 2023, relaxed its local content rules for the construction of solar modules. Easing local employment requirements from 100% to 30% for local component production is meant to facilitate quicker deployment of solar projects, and hopefully, help alleviate the country’s crippling power outages.

Power supply levels and other factors show the need to perform a balancing act when writing local content rules. Those other factors include the supply of current local skilled workers and infrastructure. We don’t want to discourage developers, so we need appropriate, tailored local content regulations.

One reasonable approach is the one taken by Kenya, where guidelines requiring contractors to formulate a local content plan have been drafted. These plans must include training, succession, jobs, technology transfer, R&D, legal, financial, and insurance issues. This approach places the “ball” in the “court” of each project’s contractor, allowing for their input in local content formulation.

A similar policy has been enacted in Nigeria. The local content policy is part of the government’s Electricity Act 2023. It requires the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) to provide for local content participation involving employment, production, and assembly of components for solar PV, deep cycle batteries, and the electro-mechanical parts of SHP technology, wind boilers, and some turbines.

The act goes further, requiring contractors, sub-contractors, and licensees involved in renewable energy to include local content in all their related activities.

If widely enacted across the continent, similar local content rules can work hand-in-hand with training efforts to ensure Africans benefit from renewable energy development — through employment and the growth of their economies.

We are seeing promising movement in the effort to address Africa’s skills gap, but we need many more programs, and we need them now. African countries and energy industry stakeholders should be doing everything possible to support these efforts, so Africans don’t miss out on renewable energy industry opportunities.

NJ Ayuk is the Executive Chairman, African Energy Chamber (www.EnergyChamber.org)

 

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