SUNI Smart Energy Limited was delighted to have the privilege of hosting a significant side event during The Africa Climate Summit, titled “Accelerating Access to Abundant Affordable Clean Energy in Africa” on 4th of September 2023 at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) in Nairobi, Kenya at Kenya House Pavilion. (caption text)

In his opening remarks, Mr Dylan Yu, Managing Director/Co-founder of SUNI Smart Energy Limited recognized the paramount role of reliable access to clean, affordable electricity in driving sustainable economic development worldwide. However, he highlighted the stark reality that Africa faces—a continent where limited energy availability stands as a primary infrastructure constraint, profoundly affecting the economic and social well-being of its people while posing substantial challenges in mitigating climate change. Paradoxically, Africa boasts abundant renewable energy sources, such as solar, wind, hydro, and geothermal, yet this potential remains largely untapped.

This perplexing paradox, as Mr. Yu Yang pointed out, presents a critical challenge and an immense opportunity. As Africa’s population continues to surge, industries expand, and economies evolve, the reliance on costly and environmentally harmful fossil fuels becomes increasingly unsustainable. The transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources holds not only the promise of reducing carbon emissions from energy production but also the potential to elevate living standards and overall quality of life for millions across the continent. To realize this potential, Africa must commit to regulatory reforms, infrastructure investments, and international collaborations that facilitate the comprehensive establishment and transition to a renewable energy grid, thus charting a course toward a more sustainable and prosperous future.

So, the paramount question that looms before us is: How can Africa harness this inexhaustible potential to usher in a sustainable and prosperous future? This question serves as the linchpin for our deliberations today.

Overcoming Challenges in the Clean Energy Sector:

Participants candidly acknowledged the challenges facing the growth of affordable clean energy in Kenya. Mr Charles Mwaura, General Manager, Network Management, Kenya Power & Lighting Company (KPLC) called for investments in storage capacity, including hydro-dam storage, to optimize power utilization. He also advocated for enhanced network interconnections, exemplified by the recent agreement between Kenya and Ethiopia.

Yu Yang emphasized the significance of customer-side demand management and adopting a responsive system. He highlighted that having a better understanding of customer load profiles enables the prediction and coordination of demand with supply, aligning with the fundamental principle of power supply systems—to match supply with demand.

Mrs Fu Jun, Senior Manager – Strategy Development Department, Hainan International Carbon Emission Exchange, China shared China’s experiences in renewable energy development, highlighting China’s status as the world’s leader in installed power capacity. Renewable energy’s installed capacity in China had already surpassed 50%. This remarkable progress was achieved through tariff-based incentives and subsidies, promoting the growth of renewable energy.

Recognizing the paramount importance of accessing abundant renewable energy, China is vigorously working to build a new type of power system to integrate the extensive and intermediate and variable renewable energy generation and so far China has built smart and strong power rate which is enhancing the comprehensive regulation capability of power system by incorporating series of new technologies like energy storage, demand response mechanisms, and system digitalization.

Fu Jun’s insights demonstrated China’s commitment to a sustainable energy future and its dedication to maximizing the benefits of renewable investments. China’s journey serves as an exemplary model for nations worldwide, showcasing the potential of renewable energy to drive economic growth while reducing carbon emissions.

Additionally, Mr David Muthike, General Manager Commercial Services, Kenya Electricity Generating Company PLC (KENGEN) outlined challenges such as financial constraints, policy complexities, and extended lead times posed hurdles. To accelerate geothermal tapping, KENGEN has adopted innovative technologies, including wellhead power technology, allowing for the rapid deployment of small power plants atop geothermal wells.

Private Sector Engagement in the Renewable Energy Value Chain:

Mr Gabriel Wetangula, Manager – Safety Health & Environmental, Geothermal Development Company (GDC) noted the role of the private sector in driving renewable energy adoption was a focal point of discussion. Geothermal energy was hailed as a linchpin for renewable growth and Kenya’s transition to a green economy.

Maximizing Climate Finance and Carbon Project Benefits through Renewable Investments:

Mr Paul N. Mbuthi, Senior Deputy Director, Renewable Energy, Ministry of Energy, Kenya emphasized the Ministry active role in ensuring compliance with carbon market guidelines, particularly during the formulation of guidelines under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). The event explored Kenya’s potential to leverage climate finance and carbon projects through further investments in renewable energies.

In conclusion this pivotal side event at Africa Climate Summit reiterates the imperative of transitioning to renewable energy in Africa. It underscores the pressing need for concerted efforts by both public and private sectors to make abundant, affordable, and clean energy accessible across the continent. The discussions held during this event contribute significantly to the ongoing dialogue on sustainable energy solutions for Africa’s future.

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