Disclaimer. After nearly 40 years managing money for some of the largest life offices and investment managers in the world, I think I have something to offer. These days I'm retired, and I can't by law give you advice. While I do make mistakes, I try hard to do my analysis thoroughly, and to make sure my data are correct (old habits die hard!) Also, don't ask me why I called it "Volewica". It's too late, now.

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Friday, July 13, 2018

Chad picks solar

Ennedi Plateau in northeastern Chad

Chad isn't big in the scheme of things to do with global warming, except as a sufferer of its effects.  Its population is about 14.5 million, of whom 13 million have no access to electricity.  Why do I find it so interesting?  Because Chad won't be choosing solar because of fossil fuel's effect on the climate.  From their point of view, if the big emitters (US, Europe, China, India, Japan and Russia) aren't doing anything, why should they, a poor country, make big sacrifices?  No, they're doing it because solar is cheaper.

Because they already have 125 MW of diesel and heavy fuel oil generation capacity, they won't need storage to balance solar output.  They can just run the fossil fuel generation at night and let solar take care of demand in the day.  The 200 to 400 MW capacity of the new solar investment will produce 60 to 120 MW of output, assuming a capacity factor of 30%.  So this new solar capacity will do more to cut the cost of electricity than to expand supply.  But that's not a bad thing: electricity from diesel or oil is very expensive.   Access to cheap energy is the key to economic development.  The next stage will be to add solar PV with storage (or a CSP plant), for the capital, and solar PV with storage for regional towns.  Insolation across most of Chad is among the highest in the world.  Building out a grid would be very costly, so distributed generation via solar plus storage is the way to go.

Across Africa, solar is taking off.  Costs are falling, and the understanding and awareness of grid operators and governments is increasing.  It makes the bitter recalcitrance of right-wing governments in the US and Australia towards renewables even harder to understand.

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