Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Solar power struggles to shine in sunny Ethiopia

(Nov 06, 2012, ADDIS ABABA,(AlertNet)--Ethiopia is known by some as “the land of 13 months of sunshine,” a reference both to its climate and to its unique calendar of 12 months of 30 days and an additional month of five or six.

But the Ethiopian government’s ambitious plans to expand renewable energy production seem to disregard all those months of sunny weather, focusing instead on wind energy and hydroelectric power. The country’s ambitious five-year Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP), which began in 2010, aims to increase the power generating capacity at least fourfold from the current level of 2,179 megawatts (MW) of electricity.

However, solar power is expected to contribute a mere 30 MW to the goal. No one disputes the need for expanded electricity access in Ethiopia.

Although almost half the country’s area is in principle covered by the national electric grid, 80 percent of the country’s 85 million population live in rural areas, and only a tiny minority of these inhabitants – some reports suggest as low as about 2 percent – are thought to have access to electricity.  Commonly cited reasons for the low levels of are the scattered locations of rural populations and inadequate infrastructure to connect villages to power lines. Read more from Trust org »

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