Author: Tom van der Linden, Solarplaza
This overview of Africa's solar pipeline clearly reflects a changing African solar landscape.
In our recently published Top 50 of largest operational solar PV plants in Africa a clear picture of South African dominance emerged. With the exception of a few big outliers in Algeria, most of the PV plants in that overview were located in South Africa.
The largest plant in that overview had a capacity of 90MW - the Solar Capital De Aar 3 plant, while the smallest entry was a 1MW PV system at a tea farm in Kenya.
The 50 of projects listed in these two new overviews of plants under development show a much more varied picture, with many other African countries stepping up to the plate, on a much larger scale than what is currently online.
Interestingly, the nation of Djibouti takes the crown, with its impressive 300MW PV project, which is to be realized in 6 phases of 50MW. The solar project is part of a very ambitious government-strategy to reduce the country's reliance on imported fossil fuels.
Of course there are still many South African plants in the list, as the country continues to lead the way. However, many other projects are now also popping up in countries as diverse as Mali, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Zimbabwe. A special mention must be made of Egypt, where 11 projects have been announced, averagely sized around 50MW.
Speaking of size, it's interesting to see how the capacity of these announced solar projects is of a significantly higher magnitude than what has been developed so far. The Top 10 of plants already under construction includes the before-mentioned massive 300MW project in Djibuti, complimented by mostly 20MW+ sized plants. The Top 40 of announced projects is dominated by 50MW+ PV plants. Even the lowest entry, still counts 28MW.
Though legitimate questions can be raised on the feasibility and planning of some of the announced projects, it provides a good indication of where the African solar market as a whole is heading.