Just like the rest of the world, Ethiopia is experiencing the effects of climate change. Besides the direct effects such as an increase in temperature or a change in rainfall patterns, climate change also presents the necessity and opportunity to switch to a new, sustainable development model. So Africa’s biggest wind farm, the Ashegoda windfarm has begun operation in Ethiopia. Billed as the biggest in sub-Saharan Africa, it has crucial potential for the continent’s renewable energy industry, aiding efforts to diversify electricity generation from hydropower plants and help the country become a major regional exporter of energy. Currently, the Horn of Africa is plagued by frequent blackouts and more than two-thirds of the population is without electricity.
The Ashegoda windfarm has 84 hi-tech turbines towering above an arid region. It has a capacity of 120MW and will produce about 400m KWh a year. It was completed in phases over three and a half years and has produced 90m KWh for the national grid. The project has provided very important experience-sharing for Ethiopia’s national companies, who have been involved in the construction of civil works such as geotechnical investigations, roads, turbine foundations, sub-station erection and electro-mechanical erection works.
Ethiopia wants to become the region’s leading producer of renewable energy. In the past two years it has built two smaller wind farms near southeast of Addis Ababa with a capacity of 51MW each. It urgently needs new energy to feed economic growth that has averaged more than 10 per cent over the past decade. Various studies have proved that there is potential to harness abundant wind energy resources in every region of Ethiopia. A study by Chinese firm Hydrochina confirmed the high potential for wind power in the northern and southern parts of Ethiopia, particularly in the Somali region, with an estimated wind energy potential of 1.3m MW.
Ethiopia aims to achieve middle-income status by 2025 while developing a green economy. Both the government and the International Monetary Fund expect this country’s economy to continue as one of the world’s fastest growing over the coming years and as a responsible member of the world, Ethiopia is aware of the important role that developing countries play in fighting climate change. Therefore, this country’s ambition to become a “green economy front-runner” is an expression of its potential and also its belief in a sustainable model of growth.
In June 2013, the American President announced Power Africa, a new initiative to double access to power in sub-Saharan Africa, which will build on Africa’s enormous power potential, including new discoveries of vast reserves of oil and gas, and to develop clean geothermal, hydro, wind and solar energy. It will help countries develop newly-discovered resources responsibly, build out power generation and transmission, and expand the reach of mini-grid and off-grid solutions. As according to the International Energy Agency, this area of the world will require more than $300 billion in investment to achieve universal electricity access by 2030.
Photo Credit: Ethiopian Govt Website
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