Small Renewable Energy Projects – Small and medium-sized renewable energy projects in Africa receive $ 200 from the African Renewable Energy Fund (Image: Thinkstock)
The African Renewable Energy Fund (AREF) met its fundraising goal, raising a total of $ 200 million to provide financial support for small and medium-scale renewable energy projects. AREF is a fund dedicated to renewable energies focused on sub-Saharan Africa.
The African Development Bank (AFDB) is the fund’s main supporter. It raised $ 55 million from its own resources, as well as mobilizing climate finance tools such as Sustainable Energy for Africa (SEFA) and the Global Environment Fund (GEF).
SEFA, in turn, has committed $ 10 million to the Project Support Facility (PSF), which will enable early stage financing of bankable projects.
Other investors include the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the Global Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Fund (GEEREF).
“As one of the world’s largest investors in renewable energy, the European Investment Bank is committed to ensuring that new projects can be implemented around the world. This commitment is demonstrated through its support for GEEREF. Our collective support for AREF it will provide financial support and share important technical experience of a small renewable project implemented for the first time, “said Pim van Ballekum, vice president of the EIB.
AREF, based in Nairobi, Kenya, invests in renewable energy projects connected to the grid: small hydroelectric, wind, geothermal, solar and biomass plants.
AREF, which raised $ 100 million in March 2014, is managed by Berkeley Energy Africa Limited. Partner and co-founder Alastair Vere Nicol said: “We are very pleased to have achieved our goal and look forward to continuing our work focusing on the technical delivery of the project to our project partners, from concept creation to reality”.
AREF is part of a larger effort to raise financial support for energy projects. AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina believes that energy shortages are the biggest challenge facing the African continent. The challenge, according to him, is “to enlighten and strengthen Africa, feed Africa, unite Africa, industrialize Africa and improve the quality of life of Africans”.
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After 20 years, many pioneering clean energy projects have lost guaranteed feed-in rates, with potential consequences for citizen involvement in the energy transition. In the solar sector, this change mainly affects households with small-scale rooftop installations. Without feed-in payments, it would no longer be profitable for many manufacturers to sell to the grid, but the EEG adjustment should be easy and cheap to use. However, not everyone agrees that encouraging families to get off the grid is the way forward for the German energy system.
This solar photovoltaic case study accompanies the following article: “The share of household energy decreases as funding runs out and large investors take over.”
The solar project on the roof of Katholische Grundschule Birkstraße, a primary school in Allendorf, Germany, has been in operation since 1997 and has been receiving feed-in payments since the beginning of the policy in 2000. This solar project may be small (it only has a capacity of peak of 1.1 kW, which means that the system’s peak power production will not be enough to power a family for a year), but it is at the forefront at that time.
Between 2020 and 2025, over 120,000 solar installations will exit the feed-in tariff system. This comes from a total of 1.7 million installations in Germany, the oldest of which are small systems with around 10kW of peak. (kWp) or less.
The goal of the Eilendorf project is to demonstrate to the public that solar energy can be used. The local group that created it, Germany’s Solarenergie-Forderverein (SFV), was founded in 1986. They started by showing neighborhood groups how solar panels could power a variety of appliances, all providing a constant flow. Milkshake from a solar-powered kitchen blender.
The next step was to demonstrate that solar energy can be fed into the grid, and thus the roof project was born. The members of the SFV are financed with the support of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia and the permission of the city of Aachen. Since 2000, the power tariff has remained at around 50 cents per kilowatt hour (ct / kWh) for 20 years. It sounds high, but after paying all the costs, including installation and disassembly, they are left with a total of 1,100 euros.
At 31 December 2020, the school solar project completed the allocation of the twenty-year incentive rate. The panels still work well and can continue to be used, but the market price of electricity is too low to be affordable. The annual market price minus the marketing cost will exceed 2 ct / kwh. The team decided that this was not enough to continue the project.
Amendments to the Renewable Energy Act (EEG), which regulates support for renewable energy plants in Germany, this year made it easier for solar producers to miss the feed-in tariff. The new law exempts solar plants with a peak capacity of 7 kilowatts (kWp) from the obligation to install expensive smart metering systems. It has also created the number of solar plants that have the right to produce and use themselves without paying additional EEG fees (“prosume”); This now applies to all installations below 30 kWp.
Thomas Griess, another Aachen resident, keeps a solar panel on the roof, helping the transition. The retired judge and longtime Green Party member installed solar panels on his house roof in 1999 as an anti-nuclear initiative. Over the past 20 years, they have sold solar power to the grid and received around 50 ct / kwh in SFV-like feed-in payments. After 15 years, Dr. Grice paid off the investment and began paying a return on the investment (although he was never motivated). With the loss of subsidies, Grice said, it was more profitable to “speculate” than to sell. He and his family installed a Tesla-made battery storage system and bought an electric car. Currently they use a maximum of 3,500 KWh of solar energy generated by 22 panels (capacity 5.5 KWp.).
Grice says self-consumption is “the model of the future” and hopes the government will make it easier and cheaper to “commercialize” more plants. The Bundesverband Solarwirtschaft points out that this is already an upward trend.
But other experts say off-grid households are not the solution for a future integrated energy system. Again, with heat pumps and electric cars needing electricity, powering rooftop solar to the grid could help balance supply and demand, while everyone storing it in their own batteries wouldn’t, he said. Furthermore, the shift to 100% green resources requires investments in renewable infrastructure and grids: consumers who do not pay for the infrastructure (which is still in use) will increase their income at the expense of non-owners. Possibility of achieving a high level of self-sufficiency with photovoltaic battery systems.
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