Renewable energy planning in Africa: robustness of mean and extreme multi-model climate change patterns in solar PV and wind energy potentials

Morten Andreas Dahl Larsen, Jean Bournhonesque, Wim Thiery, Kirsten Halsnaes, Fred F. Hattermann, Holger Hoff, Seyni Salack, Ademola Adenle, Stefan Liersch

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Increasing renewable sources in the energy mix is essential to mitigate climate change, not least in countries where the energy demand is likely to rise over the coming decades to reduce or even skip durations of time where fossils dominate. For Africa, solar photovoltaic (PV) and inland wind energy, combined with hydropower, provide significant and untapped potentials, whereas trends and robustness measures need further investigation. This study aims to gain insight into distributed trends in solar PV and wind energy potentials over Africa. This study employs relevant metrics, including relative change, model agreement, robustness, bias, and absolute levels for every available model combination and two climate scenarios, with energy planning purposes in mind. The study finds that regional climate models were the primary control of spatio-temporal patterns over their driving global climate model. Solar PV potentials show more coherence between models, a lower bias and general high potentials in most African regions than wind potentials. Favourable locations for inland wind energy include mainly the regions of greater Sahara and the Horn region. For wind and solar potentials combined, scattered locations within Sahara stand out as the most favourable across scenarios and periods. The analysis of minimum energy potentials shows stable conditions despite low potentials in certain regions. The results demonstrate a potential for solar and wind power in most of the African regions and highlight why solar and wind power or synergies of energy mix should be considered for local energy planning and storage solutions.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironmental Research Communications
Issue number1
Number of pages26
Publication statusPublished - 2024


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