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Africa's Hydropower Plants Could Receive $1 Billion for Upgrades

A dozen hydropower plants across Africa could receive $1 billion from the African Development Bank (AfDB) to upgrade equipment and boost power generation and potentially speed up the transition from fossil fuels, an official AfDB told Reuters on Monday.

Twelve projects in South Africa, Nigeria, Sudan, Zambia, Angola, and the Democratic Republic of Congo are expected to benefit from the funding.

The upgrades to the hydropower plants are set to “accelerate the energy transition” away from fossil fuels, according to João Cunha, head of the renewable energy division at AfDB.

This summer, the AfDB-managed Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa (SEFA) said at the Africa Energy Forum that hydropower could be a key element in meeting the accelerating demand for renewable energy.

A report from the bank in collaboration with the International Hydropower Association (IHA) found in July that out of the 87 hydropower stations in Africa screened, 21 are in high need, and 36 are in medium need of refurbishment. This represents an installed capacity of 4.6 GW and 10 GW, respectively, for modernization.

“To address these modernisation needs, SEFA prioritises providing technical and financial support to these projects while coordinating closely with partner institutions for additional support,” AfDB said earlier this year.

“Modernising existing hydropower assets are accelerator for Africa’s energy transition and it increases the availability of dispatchable renewable energy in a relatively short period of time while providing opportunities for integrating variable renewable energy sources, such as floating solar,” said Daniel Schroth, African Development Bank Director for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency.

“Hydropower modernisation is not just about upgrading infrastructure — it's about decarbonising and enhancing the flexibility and resilience of power systems, critical ingredients for a successful energy transition,” Cunha said in July.

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At the COP28 climate summit on Sunday, multilateral development banks attending the conference affirmed their commitment to a concerted, global action, including increasing co-financing and private sector engagement to address climate change, felt acutely in Africa.

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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