Top Countries Leading the Way in Solar

Contribution by Courtni Wisenbaker-Scheel (


As scientific research continues to prove that our choices for how we power our lives has a significant impact on the health of our planet, more countries are making the shift towards renewable resources. Solar power systems are now popping up across the globe at an astounding rate due to enticing incentivisation packages and aggressive legal mandates. At Modernize, we have found that these three countries are leading the charge in this solar revolution.

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Getting on the Renewables Train

Logo_COP21REN21 @ COP21, Paris, France

Renewable energy and energy efficiency are central pillars for decarbonising the energy sector. Moreover they hold collectively the greatest potential for addressing the climate crisis in a sustainable, decentralised and cost-effective way.

Despite the world’s recent annual average of 1.5% increase in energy consumption, and an average 3% growth in Gross Domestic Product, carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in 2014 were unchanged from 2013 levels. For the first time in four decades, the world economy grew without a parallel rise in CO2 emissions. This landmark “decoupling” was due—in large part—to the increased use of renewable resources, and efforts to promote more sustainable growth through increased use of energy efficiency and renewable energy.  This decarbonising of the economy also illustrates the place of renewables and energy efficiency at the heart of the solution to mitigate climate change.

The numbers speak for themselves. By the end of 2014, renewables contributed 19.1% to the global final energy consumption and supplied 22.8% of the world’s electricity.  Over the course of the year, renewables represented 59% of net additions to global power capacity, clearly showing that a transition to renewables is well underway in the electricity sector.  Nevertheless, this transition must be accelerated across all energy sectors. In 2014, renewables contributed only 8% to the heating and cooling sector.  And much more action is needed to decarbonise the transport sector.

It is evident that renewables are part of the solution agenda to reaching the 1.5C objective. We have the technological solutions to address this challenge.  Morally we have no excuse not to commit to an energy transition that moves us towards 100 % renewable energy and energy efficiency, and thereby ensuring energy access for all.

Renewables are cost-completive; the renewables train has left the station.  An ambitious agreement coming out of the Paris talks would do much to help accelerate this transition.

The Climate Knowledge Brokers Manifesto Urges Tailored Climate Knowledge for All

In mid-September the Climate Knowledge Brokers Group (CKB) released a Manifesto to save us from drowning in all the climate change-related information that is out there. As society is only now grasping the full extent to which our lives, jobs and environment are sensitive to a changing climate, effective decision making is needed more urgently in many area than ever before. At least, if we want to continue building a climate resilient future.

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South Africa is organising the first ever International Renewable Energy Conference on the African subcontinent. Abbreviated IREC, the conference is in its sixth instalment with previous hosts including Bonn, Germany (2004), Beijing, China (2005), Washington, USA (2008), Delhi, India (2010), Abu Dhabi, UAE (2013).

SAIREC is a high-level political conference hosted by the South African government, together with the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21) and the South African National Energy Development Institute (SANEDI), 4-7 October 2015.

The discussion will focus on the potential of renewables—within the country and the continent—that can be successfully implemented and the investment needed to boost the uptake of renewables in the coming years. SAIREC will address the two most important topics discussed around the globe: energy security and energy access.

Africa has a large untapped market potential and hence an opportunity to be the leading business destination for renewable energy. It is aided by the abundant natural resources with which the continent is endowed. Therefore, the conference’s agenda will introduce economically sound, policy-orientated initiatives that will significantly increase the presence of renewable energy not just within the continent but worldwide.

The aptly coined motto “Re-Energising Africa” only goes to show the significance of this event and its outcomes. Over the past decade these conferences have provided the motivation for several momentous initiatives and the hope is that the same holds true for Africa.


Over 3000 delegates will convene in Cape Town, for those of you at the conference, do not forget to join the twitter conversation with the hashtags #SAIREC2015 and #REenergisingAfrica.


Plugging into the Climate Knowledge Grid

“We are not far away from the climate talks in Paris and I’m frightened by the information overload that awaits people there. How will they cut through it all?”

This question, posed by Geoff Barnard at the Open Session of the Climate Knowledge Brokers (CKB) Group workshop, cuts through to the raison d’etre of knowledge brokers. With so much climate information available, on a multitude of online platforms, how can end-users find what they need – when they need it?

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West Africa: Regional leader on renewable energy and energy efficiency


ECOWAS_cover_with border

The newly released ECOWAS Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Status Report—produced collaboratively by REN21 and ECREEE—provides a regional perspective on the renewable energy and energy efficiency market and industry development in West Africa. Released November 10, 2014, the report concludes that while access to energy services remains severely constrained in the region, renewables and energy efficiency measures contribute to improved access. Moreover, together renewables and energy efficiency are a cost effective solutions for overcoming the diverse array of energy challenges currently facing the ECOWAS region. Here are some of the key findings from the report:

• As of early 2014, installed capacity of grid-connected non-hydro renewable energy provided 39MW grid-connected electricity in the region. While total installed capacity including hydro generated electricity was 4.8GW

• By end of 2014, 13 ECOWAS member states have adopted renewable energy support policies with all member states having at least one policy or one target at the national level, promoting renewable energy technology development.

• Regional new investment in renewable power and fuels from six leading ECOWAS members (Nigeria, Senegal, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia and Sierra Leone) was USD 29.7 million in 2013, down significantly from the peak of USD 370 million in 2011.

• As of 2014, FITs have been adopted by Ghana and Nigeria and are currently being developed in the Gambia and Senegal. Cabo Verde became the first and only country within the ECOWAS region to adopt net metering.

• Renewable energy technologies currently account for an estimated 28.8% of the region’s total grid-connected installed capacity

• Guinea-Bissau, Ghana, and Sierra Leone stood out as regional leaders in terms of the renewable contribution to their final consumption—at 30.3%, 22.4%, and 19%, respectively— largely as a result of their use of modern biomass.

• Hydropower accounted for 16.2% Total electricity installed capacity in Nigeria, 57% in Ghana and also played a relatively significant role in Togo (28.8%), Côte d’Ivoire (28.2%) and Guinea (34.2%). With a region-wide hydropower potential of some 25 GW, only 19% has been exploited as of early 2014

• As of early 2014, population shares using improved biomass cook stoves in ECOWAS were 2.1% in Burkina Faso, 6% in Nigeria, 16% in Senegal, 10% in Sierra Leone and 20% in the Gambia.

• Wind energy provided 27 MW (25.5MW comes from Cabo Verde’s Cabeolica wind farm, sub-Saharan Africa’s first commercial-scale public private partnership.

• Cabo Verde leads with the installation of In terms of installed grid-connected solar PV with 6.4 MW. Ghana has an installed capacity of 1.92MW.

• The region’s use of solar PV technology remains largely limited to distributed and off-grid functions, Senegal leads with installed capacity of 21MW, followed by Nigeria with 20MW and Niger with 4MW.

• As of 2014, 8 member states (Benin, Cabo Verde, The Gambia, Guinea, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal and Togo) have different energy-efficient lighting initiatives.

• Benin, Cote d’Ivoire and Nigeria have established domestic programmes for energy efficiency in the building sector.

The ECOWAS Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Status Report, covers recent developments and trends in the energy sector in the ECOWAS. It uses up-to-date renewable energy data, provided by network of contributors from and around West Africa and is targeted at policymakers, industry, investors and civil society to enable them to make informed decisions with regards to the diffusion of renewable energy By design it does not provide any analysis or forecasts.