What is it about?
Fossil fuels are one of the main sources of income for many countries in Africa. Climate change therefore presents a particular threat to these countries. They will lose out economically as other countries move away from using fossil fuels. Even so, many countries in Africa are committed to reducing carbon emissions. They have agreed to try and increase their use of renewable energy sources. Some people think countries in Africa cannot afford to switch to renewable energy while also meeting their goals of making sure everyone in the country has access to energy. The scientists in this project used a ‘power system model’ to see how well African countries could cope with switching to renewable energy. A power system model is a computer program that represents the electricity network. It has all the same inputs, outputs and characteristics as the real-life electricity network. Scientists can see how the system copes with changes in how people use power, or changes in where the power comes from.
Photo by Namnso Ukpanah on Unsplash
Why is it important?
The power system model used in this project also includes financial information, so you can see how the costs of providing electricity are changing depending on the different sources used. The scientists set this model up to recreate the situation in Nigeria. They then changed the inputs to see what will happen if Nigeria makes the switch to green energy. The model showed that Nigeria will be able to afford make the switch to green energy while still making sure it progresses towards providing energy to everyone in the country. The process will involve some continued use of fossil fuels in the short term, to make sure everyone has access to energy, as it will take time for countries to develop their production of renewable energy. KEY TAKEAWAY: There is no need for countries in Africa to choose between providing energy to everyone, or tackling climate change. The two things can be done together.
Read the Original
This page is a summary of: Delivering low-carbon electricity systems in sub-Saharan Africa: insights from Nigeria, Energy & Environmental Science, January 2021, Royal Society of Chemistry, DOI: 10.1039/d1ee00746g.
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