Renewable energy for small island nations: Cape Verde

People living in small island nations typically pay much more for energy than those in continental areas, despite, in many cases, their relative poverty. Cape Verde, a group of islands off the coast of West Africa, is an example where the government has ambitious plans to reduce the cost through use of renewable energy. Currently 90% of their electricity generation is based on imported diesel, with the result that islanders pay nearly double the cost in mainland Europe per kilowatt hour. In a country with a per capita GDP of just $3,156 (source: IMF), this is a problem.

This short video (6:41 mins) from Deutsche Welle on the development of renewable energy in Cape Verde sets out the problems, as well as developments there in solar and wind power.

Like many other inhabited islands, Cape Verde is blessed with a plentiful supply of both wind and sunlight, and wind and solar farms are now being developed. The video includes footage of the wind farm on Sa0 Anta0, which it says is the first private sector wind farm in West Africa, and which, when complete, will provide 25% of the island’s electricity needs.

The government’s ambitious target is to provide 50% of the whole archipelago’s electricity needs from renewable sources by 2020. Financial support is coming from both public and private sources, with the European Investment Bank and African Development Bank investing heavily in wind power.

Let’s hope they can hit that target and thereby succeed in bringing down the cost, so in 10 year’s time we’re not still watching videos about how people there can’t pay their electricity bills.

Thanks to our friends over at ECOWAS Regional Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREEE), one of whose staff appears in the video, for putting me onto this.

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