JOHANNESBURG – A drop in the price of renewable energy could help propel development in Africa, the secretary general and CEO of World Energy Council said ahead of an international summit on the topic in South Africa on Tuesday.
Christoph W. Frei, who was set to participate in the Africa Energy Indaba conference taking place Johannesburg over the next two days, was optimistic that it was the opportune time for African nations to grasp sustainable energy.
“Africa is one of the richest regions in renewable resources. It is time to decide how we can accelerate some of these opportunities,” said Frei, head of the foundation promoting greener energy.
Africa Energy Indaba is to host several international experts, companies and political representatives to discuss a variety of issues from decarburization, digitalization to decentralization.
Frei said he believed Africa was going through a crucial moment of development and that it now had the chance to capitalize on declining renewable energy prices.
“The cheapest and fastest way to deliver energy is, in fact, clean and renewable energy. Solar energy and rain can compete, or even surpass coal,” Frei said.
The African continent hosted several areas ripe for renewable energy sources from its hot central lands ideal for solar panels to hydroelectric facilities, such as the Inga Dam in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
“Africa has enormous hydraulic options and we have known about that for a long time. Many people have emphasized the need to work on this agenda, but to do that, regional integration and large investments are needed,” Frei said.
Frei said that shifting African nations further toward sustainable energy in a way that satisfied supply and demand would require patience.
Frei said that although renewable energy sources were still not exempt from disturbing the environment, they were in his opinion incomparable to the damage caused by the fossil fuel industry.
“The only clean energy that we know is the one we do not consume. All of the others are dirty, including the renewables. Now (the goal is) to make sure that we choose the least problematic fuel source,” Frei said.
He said the world would eventually needed to be weaned off fossil fuels to confront climate change.