Solar energy, like all other renewable energies, is very safe and environmentally friendly. It is as clean as a cloudless sky. There are no emissions since the source of fuel is the sun, unlike coal-powered stations.
Generally referred to as the “sunny continent”, Africa is the sunniest place on Earth. The southern African region, or basically all of Africa, has sunshine all year round. The annual 24-hour global solar radiation average is about 220 W/m2 for South Africa as compared with about 150 W/m2 for parts of the USA.
Despite its fortunate conditions, the penetration of solar power in Africa’s energy mix is still shallow and its massive PV potential remains untapped. Solar Energy is considered as the future of the World mostly because of its clean nature and sustainability. having maximum average sunshine hours makes a place exceptionally suited for solar energy production.
Geography: Africa has all the chances to become a powerful solar hub thanks to its geographical suitability. The region arguably revives more amount of daylight per year than any other continent, which makes PV panels to be a feasible replacement of fossil fuels.
Environment: There is a very common misconception that hottest places are more suitable solar energy production. But we must not forget that such tropical regions often have plenty of clouds too.
In Southern Africa, regions like Namib, Kgalagadi and Karoo (semi)deserts and adjacent areas have some of the driest climate, which implies less cloud. Resultantly solar devices here can catch more energy in winter by tilting slightly towards the equator.
Harvesting solar power: In 2016, only South Africa had 1,329MW of installed solar power capacity which is expected reach 8,400 MW by 2030. With this major expansion of solar power imminent, the major beneficiary to this inexpensive electric power is population living in remote areas, which are actually not connected to any national grid. Schools in remote areas in particular can make use of electronic media as a result of this technology.
Surroundings: Unlike Sahara and other several parts of central Asia, the southern African dry areas experience comparatively low levels of dust. Dust particles in the air are like clouds in the sky. They act like obstacle in the way and prevent sunshine to reach solar panels. Surrounded by ocean from three sides has its own advantage.
These conditions jointly offer some of the best conditions in the world for solar energy.
Despite having favourable conditions, and so many positive aspects of adopting this technology. The region currently spends nearly USD 10 billion every year on the import of fossil fuel for generating power. The same amount could be reduced down to the minimum level by shifting towards renewable resources.
The cost was prohibitive a decade ago, but not anymore. Africa has very few major PV plants so far. It is a trend that is set to continue and get even stronger.