CNBC Africa


Pathways to faster decarbonization with gas and renewables

PUBLISHED: Tue, 16 Feb 2021 10:47:12 GMT

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The power sector accounts for up to 41 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions today, with Africa contributing about 2-3%. In parallel, there are still over 580 million people on the continent who do not have access to reliable energy and the demand for electricity is expected to continue to grow as populations increase, industrialization ambitions grow and urbanization continues to fuel the need for more power. To address sustainability concerns, the world is transitioning towards a lower carbon energy mix at a pace unseen before. This is reflected in the total global value of energy transition investment – including spend on new renewable energy capacity, electric vehicles and associated charging infrastructure, energy storage technologies, and more – reaching over US$500 billion ( for the first time in 2020. This was an increase of 9 percent over the previous year, despite the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, while renewables are growing rapidly, increases are not occurring fast enough, and they are still projected to provide less than half of global electricity supply by 2040. “As Sub-Saharan Africa balances the need for more access to power with the drive for transition to cleaner energy sources, the accelerated and strategic deployment of renewable and gas power together can deliver a no-regrets path to make substantive reductions in emissions quickly, while delivering dependable, affordable power,” says Elisee Sezan, CEO of GE Gas Power Sub-Saharan Africa. A recent white paper ( by GE titled ‘Accelerated Growth of Renewables and Gas Power Can Rapidly Change the Trajectory on Climate Change’ outlines how gas power can complement renewables to offer decarbonization at scale in the near-term, with pathways to near-zero in the long term, while providing affordable and reliable baseload power. These solutions were discussed at a virtual media roundtable organized by GE Gas Power under the theme ‘Pathways to Faster Decarbonization with Gas and Renewables’. The following speakers addressed attendees: Brian Gutknecht, Marketing Leader, GE Gas Power; Jeffrey Goldmeer, Emergent Technologies Director – Decarbonization, External Programs & Partnerships, GE Gas Power; Deepesh Nanda, CEO, GE Gas Power South Asia; Abdurrahman Khalidi, Chief Technology Officer, GE Gas Power, MENA & South Asia; Michael Konadu, Commercial Growth Director, GE Gas Power Sub-Saharan Africa. The complementary attributes of renewables and gas power Today, we’re seeing countries across Sub-Saharan Africa commit to increasing the share of renewable energy in their mix and to decarbonize their economies. South Africa recently announced three new renewable procurement rounds totaling 6,800MW throughout 2021. Nigeria’s National Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Policy aims to add 10GW of grid-connected renewable energy by 2030. Kenya, Senegal, Ghana and Angola have similar ambitions. Gas power offers distinct advantages in supporting this growth of renewable energy throughout the region. Gas is increasingly abundant, available, and affordable, and expected to become even more so in the years ahead, offering countries relatively low-cost power on demand. It offers the cleanest means of power production among all traditional fossil fuels, with as little as less than half the carbon dioxide emissions of coal. Additionally, gas offers pathways to future conversion to low or near-zero carbon with hydrogen and carbon capture, utilization, and sequestration (CCUS) technologies. Gas also provides dependable, dispatchable capacity that is available regardless of the time of day, season, or weather; this is critical for grid stability as very high renewables penetration can lead to system instability. Gas plants can compensate for long gaps in renewable production in ways that today’s battery storage technology cannot. The latter can usually be used for short-term (typically