Ethiopia is mid-way through a six-month state of emergency, but its renewable energy sector continues to make rapid progress.
To sustain this momentum, Ethiopia’s government is pressing ahead with ambitious development plans, and clean energy is core to the mission.
Ethiopia was among the most daring signatories to the Paris Agreement on climate change, committing to cut carbon emissions by 64% by 2030. The government has ploughed billions of dollars into hydropower megaprojects such as the Grand Renaissance Dam — which will be the largest dam in Africa — and the freshly-inaugurated Gibe III Dam.
The next target is to become the wind power capital of Africa.
Ethiopia inaugurated one of the continent’s largest wind farms in 2013 — the $290 million, 120-megawatt (MW) Ashedoga plant. This was followed by the even larger 153 MW Adama II facility in 2015.
But wind accounted for just 324 MW of Ethiopia’s total output of 4,180 MW at the end of 2015, with the vast majority coming from hydropower.
This picture is set to change with the government’s second “Growth and Transformation Plan,” which will see total output pass 17,000 MW by 2020, and a vastly increased share from the air.
The government has plans for at least five further wind farms, and potentially many more, aiming to deliver up to 5,200 megawatts from wind power within four years. The cost is officially calculated at $3.1 billion, although other estimates place it over $6 billion.
“We are conducting research and studying the data to see the number of plants we can connect (to the National Grid),” says Misikir Negash, head of communications for the Ethiopian Electric Power company. “It is important to have different energy sources for a reliable system. Wind is a big focus and we need it.”