Cape Verde, a collection of ten islands off the coast of Senegal, has announced that it is aiming to be powered exclusively by renewable energy sources come the year 2025.
Currently, nearly all 550,000 residents of the islands (just one is uninhabited) have access to electricity but around a third are still reliant upon charcoal and firewood for cooking, the Conversation reports.
The majority of the electricity is produced by generators, running on imported petroleum products, but the archipelago has now started diversifying its energy portfolio and a quarter of the electricity is from renewable sources.
Luckily, Cape Verde has access to a wide range of resources and technologies they can pick and choose from in order to achieve their 2025 goal. These include solar from the Sahel, wind from Morocco, marine energy thanks to the coast and geothermal resources from the likes of Kenya.
Wind power production may well be the most obvious place to start, given that average annual wind speeds in Cape Verde are over 9m/s. Wind farms usually need wind speeds of at least 6.4m/s at 50m above ground. At the moment, three of the islands in the archipelago produce around 25 per cent of all electricity from wind turbines, but the scalability of this currently isn’t there because of a lack of energy storage facilities.
Solar electricity is another good option because of the tropical location of the islands, with a recent study from Gesto Energy suggesting that solar capacity potential is more than double the electrical generating capacity that’s already installed. The island of Santiago, which is densely populated, is the best place to consider developing this particular energy source.
“Cape Verde has already had tremendous success in integrating wind and solar into its energy system. By adopting cutting-edge technologies and innovative business practices, Cape Verde can achieve its 100 per cent renewable energy goal in a way that is cost-effective and equitable,” the news source went on to observe.
Last year, Lonely Planet reported that much progress has in fact already been made, with around a quarter of the region’s per capita electricity consumption provided by renewable sources. However, total energy consumption is doubling every five years, so it may prove tricky to hit their target.
Desalination was also suggested as a way of producing electricity sustainably. Desalination systems provide drinking water for the population and these do use a lot of electricity – but schedules could be implemented so that the systems are only used when wind turbines are in operation and when demand for electricity is low in a bid to maximise efficiency.
Hydroelectric power could also be a solution because the desalinated water could be pumped into reservoirs, to be used when electricity demands peak.
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