Steering North African countries towards REN21’s path of sustainable solar energy development

Sulaiman Fadlallah, Delight M. Sedzro, Djamal Eddine Benhadji Serradj, Rakesh Mishra

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While more countries are promising to reach net-zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2050, North Africa’s efforts and promises fall well short of what is needed to give the world a fair chance of staying below 1.5 °C global warming by 2050. Therefore, it is crucial that the nations within the region contribute to achieving the clean energy goals outlined in REN21’s latest renewable energy overview. Given the region's solar belt status, and with the Coronavirus Disease-2019 (COVID-19) undermining many of these countries’ emission goals, it has become imperative to evaluate in detail other sites within these countries to increase access to solar energy. Under the shadow of the 26th United Nations climate change conference of the parties, this goal should not seem unrealistic. This study represents the first attempt in the literature to utilize a strategic perspective to explore the viability and cost-effectiveness of adapting REN21’s targets for increasing the share of solar photovoltaic (PV) installations in North Africa. With the aid of Hybrid Optimization Model for Electric Renewables, the study indicates significant prospects for exploring solar PV across several cities in each country, in accordance with REN21’s nation-specific targets. An examination of different forms of PV technology reveals that Schneider ConextCoreXC 630 kW with Generic PV outperforms the other types investigated by delivering the lowest cost of energy among all types; alternating between US$0.01916/kWh and US$0.1574/kWh across the six nations. By performing comparisons between the proposed PV plants in each of the North African countries and power plants with similar targeted capacity utilizing diesel fuel, PV farm utilization is found to be economically practical, sustainable against volatile prices for diesel fuel, and it is anticipated to avoid nearly between 1 million tons/year and 25.5 million tons/year of pollutants and reduce energy costs by between US$0.07117/kWh and US$1.1046/kWh across the six countries. By analyzing the effects PV cost can have on the cost of energy for the top sites in each country, the anticipated continuing drop in PV costs will set the scene for PV systems to contribute to each of the countries’ energy mix even more attractive fundamentally. Either by focusing on one site and intensifying the farms at that site, or deciding on multiple sites out of the top five locations highlighted in each country and scatter the farms across them, this study offers a generalized design guideline and recommendation for government officials and policymakers to choose the best solutions based on national preferences.
Original languageEnglish
Article number102735
Number of pages35
JournalSustainable Energy Technologies and Assessments
Issue numberPart C
Early online date12 Sep 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 12 Sep 2022

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