The world’s super powers, USA, Russia, and China, may owe their strength to a dependence of oil. Renewable energy remains a limited, almost exotic concept laden with underinvestment even in the richest countries. Oil and other fossil fuels act as the life blood of developed countries and play an important role within the development of up and coming nations.
Ethiopia, a country with the highest human population of any land-locked country in the world; a country with a demand for electricity yet non-reliant upon oil. Limited trade links from the sea and a history of oil price fluctuations has made Ethiopia’s demand for power dependent upon renewable energy.
Ethiopia in recent times has become one of the fastest growing economies in the world and the top non-oil dependant African country. Ethiopia initially began to harness its water based energy potential in the 70s, and in more recent years has been focusing funds towards many colossal hydroelectric dams throughout the country.
Although access to oil is seen as unreliable, renewable energy, specifically hydroelectricity, is it may strongly dependant of weather, specifically in hot countries. Africa may possess the correct weather system to increase the questionability surrounding their hydro-electrical reservoirs. And though Ethiopia has a sizeable hydro-electrical infrastructure which is increasing, the country’s total dependence of hydro-electricity may lead to blackouts in times of drought. To rectify this challenge, Ethiopia has begun to harness its expansive supply of natural power, advancing even farther away from the well expected country archetype of oil, coal and gas. Ethiopia’s rich natural resource base and acceleratory demand for power has made it a leader of interest for non-conventional energy providers worldwide. Foreign investors happily provide the vast majority of investment; this means billions may be funnelled into truly monumental structures of power production.
Ethiopia tops Africa’s main three countries for wind potential, and has recently opened its largest wind farm costing an approximate 290 million dollars. Yet with finance covered by French investment, this resource may be set to increase, acting to stabilise the national grid. The eloquence of this solution to hydroelectric uncertainty, whilst reservoirs decrease within the dry season causing blackouts this season, exhibits an increase in wind speeds perfectly allowing for a moderate switch of power dependency from hydro to wind. It is this complementary usage of selective natural power resources that is such an appealing concept. This idea should rightly change the perception of natural power to a reliable source, especially for countries that possess ample natural resources and unlike Ethiopia, greater rates of investment.
Most recently, geothermal energy seems to become the focal point of Ethiopia’s natural energy expansion. The presence of geothermal energy has afforded the country another outlet of energy production. With the American Icelandic power company Reykjavik Geothermal backing three-quarters of the 4 billion dollar investment, the total energy production of the country aims to increase by 50% from 2000 to 3000MW. Like Ethiopia, renewable energy has been chronically underinvested and perceived as an area of little return; however, investment and interest has exponentially increased for Ethiopia, and soon the techniques it has employed may too be recognised.
Surrounding the land locked country of Ethiopia, many African countries share blackouts and electricity shortages. With its new exploitation of natural resources, Ethiopia and Kenya have secured a 1.3 billion dollar investment for power lines to export electricity to Kenya.
It is said Ethiopia has the capacity to produce 45,000 MW of power, more than the total amount currently consumed in all of sub-Saharan Africa. With such a rich future, it is little wonder that investment in Ethiopia’s energy sector triggered growth throughout all of the sectors the country.
How might the rewards of clean energy benefit local people and innovate future generations to cease relying on fossil fuels altogether?