Low-emission alternatives.Aside from large hydro schemes, the options for low carbon power generation fall into two categories: nuclear reactors and renewable energy Renewable energy utilizes natural resources such as sunlight, wind, tides and geothermal heat, which are naturally replenished. Renewable energy technologies range from solar power, wind power, and hydroelectricity to biomass and biofuels for transportation. .
Renewable forms of energy production, such as solar power, wind turbines, geothermal and biomass, have long been the favoured option of most environmentalists, while nuclear energy was largely regarded as their worse nightmare.
Yet as fears of global warming global warming, the gradual increase of the temperature of the earth's lower atmosphere as a result of the increase in greenhouse gases since the Industrial Revolution. have increased, the problem of disposing of nuclear waste and the possibility of a nuclear accident have begun to be outweighed by nuclear power's low carbon emissions.
When the total carbon emissions from the construction, use and dismantling of power generation projects are taken into account, nuclear reactors are comparable with most forms of renewable energy.
They also produce at least 95% less emissions than even the cleanest thermal power plant. Some of the governments that have thus far put most effort into tackling global warming, such as Germany and the UK, are reassessing their previous distrust of nuclear power and are actively considering redeveloping new reactors to enable high polluting thermal plants to be phased out.
This will be of relatively little relevance for Africa for the foreseeable future. Morocco and Egypt are investigating the possibility of developing their own commercial reactors for the first time, but this appears to have more to do with national prestige and possibly energy security than environmental fears.
South African power company Eskom currently operates the continent's only commercial reactors, at Koeberg. It is attempting to develop its pebble bed reactor The pebble bed reactor (PBR) is an advanced nuclear reactor type. A number of prototypes have been built, and it is currently under active development in South Africa as the PBMR design, and in China whose HTR-10 is the only prototype currently operating. model with British Nuclear Fuels Ltd (BNFL BNFL British Nuclear Fuels LTD ) but has so far failed to secure sufficient investment to proceed with development.
Reactors are highly unlikely to be developed anywhere between the Cape and Cairo for a long time to come because of the high up-front investment costs Those program costs required beyond the development phase to introduce into operational use a new capability; to procure initial, additional, or replacement equipment for operational forces; or to provide for major modifications of an existing capability. , the technology required and international fears over the proliferation of any form of nuclear technology in developing countries. Renewable energy projects therefore seem to be a much more likely option for Africa. They could be particularly useful in providing electricity in the vast areas of the continent that currently lack access to national grids.
Small wind turbines or solar panels can be installed to provide very small amounts of electricity. Given that many rural areas of Africa are unlikely to be able to access electricity produced by large scale power plants for decades to come, small renewable energy ventures are the best solution. The problem remains funding. NGOs, some oil companies and some government agencies have already funded solar and wind projects but these have barely scratched the surface of the vast pool of demand.
Role of renewables increasing
Renewables are considered a less likely option for mainstream grid generation but their role is increasing. Kenya already has a substantial and growing geothermal sector around Lake Naivasha Lake Naivasha is a freshwater lake in Kenya, lying north west of Nairobi, outside the town of Naivasha. It is part of the Great Rift Valley. The coordinates are: ,
The name derives from the local Maasai name Nai'posha , where heat is taken from the earth and used to power turbines. The state owned Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen) has operated the 45MW Olkaria East facility since 1980 and expansion to over 100MW is planned.
The sector has also attracted private sector investment. In 2000, US geothermal energy geothermal energy: see energy, sources of.
Power obtained by using heat from the Earth's interior. Most geothermal resources are in regions of active volcanism. company Ormat brought the $35m Olkaria III plant on stream and in the long term, KenGen has plans to develop a string of new plants, with combined capacity of 575MW, but financing remains a problem. Nevertheless, geothermal heat is a very reliable source of energy and most countries in east and southern Africa
Larger scale solar and wind projects could also help to offset electricity production by thermal power plants. Tunisia currently has 20MW of wind power generating capacity at the Hawariya wind farm at Cap Bon Cap Bon (Arabic: كاب بون, Ra's At-tib) also Sharik Peninsula, sometimes Shariq Peninsula is a peninsula in far northeastern Tunisia. It is located at around . in the north of the country. Capacity is now expected to grow rapidly thanks to financial support from the African Development Bank and a string of development agencies, while the Global Environment Facility (GEF GEF Global Environment Facility
GEF Guanine-Nucleotide Exchange Factor (biology, biochemistry)
GEF Global Environment Fund
GEF Generic Extensibility Framework
GEF Graduate Education Foundation
GEF Global Ejection Fraction ) has agreed to provide $10.5m to support projects with total capacity in excess of 100MW.
Eskom is investigating the possibility of developing a concentrated solar power (CSP (1) (Certified Systems Professional) An earlier award for successful completion of an ICCP examination in systems development. See ICCP.
(2) (Commerce Service P ) project under its Bulk Renewable Energy Generation programme. A 100MW CSP scheme has been mooted for the Northern Cape For other uses, see North Cape (disambiguation).
The Northern Cape is a large, sparsely populated province of South Africa, created in 1994 when the Cape Province was split up. Its capital is Kimberley. but production costs would be higher than for the company's coal fired plants, so construction remains uncertain.