Africa is capable of suppling most of its energy requirements through solar power and wind power by 2030, according to a new report. If managed correctly with co-operation across borders, the continent could slash its energy bills, reduce the number of conventional power stations and save billions of dollars.

Africa is a continent where renewable energy is the most viable and has the potential to house some of the largest solar and wind farms on the planet, a UC Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory team has revealed.

Using resource mapping tools, the team assessed the potential for large solar and wind farms in 21 countries in southern and eastern African identifying 'power pools', which includes more than half of Africa's population, stretching from Libya and Egypt in the north and along the eastern coast to South Africa.

They concluded that, with the right strategy for placing solar and wind farms, and with international sharing of power, most African nations could lower the number of conventional power plants - fossil fuel and hydroelectric - they need to build, thereby reducing their infrastructure costs by perhaps billions of dollars.

"The big surprising find is that the wind and solar resources in Africa are absolutely gigantic, and something you could tap into for relatively low cost," said senior author Duncan Callaway, a UC Berkeley associate professor of energy and resources and a faculty scientist at Bekeley Lab. "But we need to be thinking now about strategies for fostering international collaboration to tap into the resource in a way that is going to maximise its potential while minimising its impact.

The investigation team believes that not only will the 21 'power pool' countries use less fossil fuel and other conventional energy sources, but the cost of their electricity will also decrease. Moreover, building these non-conventional energy sources in Africa will help them lower the cost for building other energy plants. "The surprising find is that the wind and solar resources in Africa are absolutely gigantic, and something you could tap into for relatively low cost," said senior author Duncan Callaway, a UC Berkeley associate professor of energy and resources and a faculty scientist at Berkeley Lab.

The low cost of wind power and solar power in Africa can also be used by other countries, Phys.org stated. Strategies need to be laid out for it to be perfectly accessible and it needs to be done soon. Everything will be maximised, from the renewable energy sources to international collaboration. Its negative impact will also lower.

This solution for Africa is the best way to handle the lack of energy and the drought that is brought by climate change. Since hydroelectric is used by one-third of the continent, changing it to more renewable energy in time before other worst effects of climate change will happen is the best way to deal with it. The researchers have also chosen the best and perfect places to build these renewable energy

In South Africa renewable energy remains a key foundation for future development. Its National Integrated Energy Plan (IEP) was envisaged in the White Paper on the Energy Policy of the Republic of South Africa of 1998 and revamped in 2008.

READ MORE ON SOUTH AFRICA'S IEP HERE

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