A study focusing on the Integration of Variable Renewable into the Ethiopia electrical grid considering the development scenario until 2030 has been rolled out.
Entitled: “Integration of Variable Energy on the National Electric System,” the study was crafted and developed in close coordination with the Ethiopia Electric Power and RES4 Africa in and Enel Foundation as well as technical support from Italian firm CESI.
The aim of the study is to estimate the optimal amount of variable renewable energy resources that can be integrated into the Ethiopian electric power system between 2025 and 2030 by identifying possible criticalities and suggesting remedial measures concerning both the operation system generation and operation.
“The study will help to attract investments and enable the full capacity of exploiting the socio-economic benefits of renewables in Ethiopia,” Roberto Vigotti secretary general of RES4 Africa said.
The current energy generation is highly reliant on hydropower with 3800 MW equal to 89 percent of total generation capacity and the electrification rate of 85 percent in urban areas. This is high but it drops dramatically to 10 percent in rural areas, so only 25 percent of Ethiopian citizens enjoy access to energy. The population and GDP growth will result in an increased demand for electricity in the coming years. the government is turning its attention to other renewable energy sources to diversify the energy mix.
According to the study, the country should exploit renewable energy sources efficiently to cope up with the strong demand growth that exceeds 12 percent per year.
A focus on attaining a more balanced energy mix between hydro resources, solar, wind and geothermal sources, diversifying the mix of energy resources will improve the security of supply and will help mitigate the effect of climate change, the study states. Bio mass resources from wood residues and sugar waste can also contribute to energy diversification.
Wind power has a capacity of 324MW equal to 8 percent of total generation capacity while biomass, geothermal and liquid fossil fuels provide only 2 percent of total generation.
In the future, wind and solar power capacities can be installed in Ethiopia. Up to 2400 MW from wind and 3500MW solar is expected in 2025 and 3600MW from wind and 5300MW from solar by the year 2030.
The overall non hydropower renewable capacity is estimated to grow from 9 percent recorded in 2017 up to 34 percent in 2025 and 43 percent in 2030.
As Ethiopia has the strategy of becoming a world class exporter of large amounts of clean and cheap renewable energy, an additional demand is estimated in the mid and long term due to power export.
In 2025, 68 percent of the energy will be produced by hydropower plants, 13 percent by solar and 12 percent by wind power plants.
Concerning the interconnections with the neighboring countries, the Ethiopian electric power system is currently interconnected with Sudan and Djibouti for a total of 300 MW net transfer capacity. However, additional interconnection with Kenya 2000MW is in the advanced stage of construction and a new Ethiopia Sudan interconnection is about to start at 3000MW.
The main importing country would be Sudan equal to 67 percent in 2025 and 93 percent in 2030.
Export to neighboring countries in the presence of additional VRES capacity could lead to net benefits up to1.6 billion in 2025 increasing to 2.4 billion USD in 2030.
This year’s African Economic Outlook 2019 from the African Development Bank (AfDB) says Ethiopia will generate USD one billion by 2020 from energy exports.
“Beside generating and diversifying energy sectors, the government should develop the legal framework for private sector involvement,” Vigotti added.