Future Renewable Energy availability under the foreseen climate evolution for the next decades in the African continent is assessed. The evolution pattern of the natural resources (solar radiation, wind, biomass and running water) providing the raw "material" for Renewable Energy is analysed following some key climate scenarios developed and analysed inside the JRC.
Climate science has provided indications on the climatic change taking place in Africa: according to forecasts, higher temperature values are expected in the whole continent, with sharper increases in the dry belts just north and south of the tropics. Precipitation should increase in the tropic areas while it is expected to decrease in the northern and southern extremes of the continent. This already happening climatic change could have an impact on the raw resources available for renewable energy production, even if scientific literature on this aspect is somewhat limited and IPCC has pointed out that "Climate change will have impacts on the size and geographic distribution of the technical potential for Renewable Energy sources, but research into the magnitude of these possible effects is nascent". Nevertheless, the issue is relevant for both policy makers and private investors needing to understand if and to what extent energy policies or investments in infrastructure should be tuned in response of changing climate conditions. For this reason, in this report, a first quantitative estimation of climatic effects on renewable energy resources availability has been attempted on the basis of the analysis of the output of climate models on the African region.
Chapter 1 introduces the context of energy and climate change issues in the African continent. Future availability of renewable energies is evaluated based on several meteorological indicators calculated applying the global ECHAM-HAM aerosol-climate model. Results are provided on the statistically significant changes of the most relevant meteorological variables (ground temperature, solar radiation and precipitation) in a 30-year time span, to be used as a basis for the analyses described in the following chapters.
In Chapter 2 PhotoVolatic electricity production under climate variability is assessed, together with the effect of technological improvements already leading to a substantial decrease of PV system costs.
Chapter 3 deals with wind and provides a forecast of major changes of typical wind energy production indicators. Given the resolution at which the climate modelling has been developed (1.75ºx1.75º degrees), the analysis focuses on synoptic scale effects.
Chapter 4 first discusses the complexity of bioenergy in the African context. Several key messages were provided regarding the opportunities and the caveats to be considered when planning biomass-to-energy exploitation chains. A quantitative assessment of threats posed by excessive fuelwood exploitation for cooking is also presented, combining the analysis of both climate and demographic pressures.
In Chapter 5 a quick continent-wide estimation of climate change impact on hydro-power resources was performed, based on variables that describe hydrological characteristics, and which resulted by using the already cited climate model.
The report is completed by Appendix A describing in more detail the seasonal variability of the key meteorological parameters and by Appendix B setting the basis for an assessment of the theoretically total potential of methane as Landfill Gas, derived from Municipal Solid Waste, a potentially relevant resource in the African context.