By: Amanda Froelich,
The contrast of all that Africa embodies couldn’t be greater: while some areas thrive, others struggle to survive, and some areas blister in city lights, while others are baked by sun in rural, lower educated areas.
However, in a big move to help boost Africa’s electricity generation, equalize community, and create sustainable lifestyle habits, Ethiopia recently opened Africa’s biggest wind farm.
The sustainable energy project, Ashegoda Wind Farm, will generate 120 megawatts of electricity. The announcement of the new farm came online after Ethiopia also announced a preliminary agreement to build a 1,000 megawatt geothermal facility, the largest in Africa.
Envisioning a lush Africa, the growing economics and more stable government are making the eastern country eager for power – but greener power. According to Steve Sawyer, secretary general of the Global Wind Energy Council, “People see what’s happening in China with the air pollution and they don’t want coal-fired power stations.” In fact, European and Chinese investment has helped the price of wind power fall below coal-generated electricity. Therefore, “it’s becoming an economic option”.
With implementation of greener technologies, Ethiopia may have access to a terawatt of wind power to add to the vast hydro power resources which now supply 90 percent of its electricity. Combined with the geothermal potential of the East Africa Rift and the country’s goal to become carbon-neutral by 2025, a ‘greener’ Africa seems possible.
Unfortunately the largest challenge most likely will be delivering the power to its people. It’s estimated by the International Energy Agency that 77 percent of Ethiopians do not have access to electricity. Most of it’s power will be sold to neighboring countries.
However, the Ethiopian government is now trying to connect more people to the grid. Sawyer claims cash from the new power plants could help pay for this venture.
If Africa is managing, what are the excuses of other nations? It’s a positive step in the right direction for developing countries looking to establish their place in the world, but in a respectful, sustainable manner.