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Africa Benefits from Plunging Prices in Solar Energy

13 Oct 16:00 by Steve Walia

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New research carried out by IRENA has found that domestic solar power systems across Africa are now providing vital electricity for homes across the region for just $56 a year - a price that is even lower than generating power from kerosene or diesel.

This means that around 10pc of Africa's off-grid population, which equates to around 600 million people, are now using clean energy generated off-grid to provide domestic light in their home.

Looking at East Africa as just one region, over 350,000 people are using solar PV technology to provide green electricity on their homes. Additionally, they are now using money-transfer technologies delivered through their mobile phones in order to pay for their renewable energy. 

These two trends mean that green power is set to be a primary driver in the region's objective to provide universal pan-African access to electricity in the next 14 years.

Kenya is one country already benefiting from lower solar prices combined with mobile payment technologies. Mini solar grids are expected to play a fundamental role in bringing power to the vast area of the north, which is sparsely populated and not connected to a national grid.

France is providing $36 million of renewable energy support to Kenya in order to install 23 mini grids in the northern region that will use wind or solar power.

IRENA believes that ongoing innovation in the renewable field means that costs will drop by a further 60pc over the next two decades. These costs will be seen globally, due to changing regulatory policy, technological innovation and an enhanced environment for encouraging private investment.

Already, solar-powered domestic lighting systems now cost only around $120 for a small installation in Kenya - and this represents an 80pc drop in just six years.