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Redefining the solar power market in Africa

Oct 6, 2020

Solar power capacity and energy generation has seen a rapid increase over the last decade, becoming the fastest growing source of renewable energy in the world. Thanks to technological advances, a sharp decline in costs, improved policies and growing concerns over climate change, renewable energy has been placed front and center on both the public and private agendas.

While the economic downturn caused by the Covid-19 pandemic has stifled growth in 2020, with demand decreasing across both the private, commercial and utility sectors due to the financial uncertainty faced, Africa’s growing population and rapid urbanisation has meant that identifying solutions and designing systems for resilient and resource-efficient cities is imperative.

According to Joshua Low, Managing Director at Messe Frankfurt South Africa – organisers of leading solar and energy storage event in Africa, Solar Power Africa, it is critical that solutions to address the current supply chain disruptions and loss of investment are identified in order to prevent delays and cancellations of projects being commissioned in Africa.

Low says that Africa’s energy deficit caused by an aging fleet of power plants run by utilities requires both the public and private sectors to rethink the energy mix in order to meet the demand.

Despite setbacks and power constraints, many African countries have bountiful renewable energy resources – particularly in the form of solar energy, which has the potential to guarantee energy security for these countries. Unlocking this potential requires a collaborative effort, which is where events like Solar Power Africa are prime platforms to facilitate dialogue.

The event, which is set to take place from 16 – 20 November 2020 will bring together an extensive alliance of local and internationally renowned industry leaders, stakeholders and experts with the aim of discussing and unpacking strategies that aim to provide greater access to solar power and clean energy solutions on the continent.

The conference is aimed at all industries, both public and private, forming part of the renewable energy industry value chain. This includes installers, contractors and producers, major utility companies, energy storage experts, smart energy professionals, finance, industry bodies and government.

Consisting of six plenary sessions and over 12 specialised breakaway streams, Sola Power Africa will cover a range of topics, including but not limited to:

  • Multimode and Microgrid energy storage solutions
  • Transformation within the solar and renewable energy sectors
  • Private Sectors role in Investing in Electricity Infrastructure and its contribution to the Energy Sector
  • Large- and small-Scale Solar Financing Solutions
  • Expanding Off-Grid Energy into Africa

Low further explains that the global lockdown and regulations aimed at curbing the spread of Covid-19 have meant that the events industry has had to reinvent the way that it does conferences. “For Solar Power Africa, creating a virtual conferencing platform. One of the advances in virtual conferencing is that these platforms now use artificial intelligence, which delivers smart recommendations of people to connect with one another as well as, the ability for delegates to access the content on offer from anywhere in the world.”

The event will be supported by a Solar Power Africa virtual marketplace – an online directory of suppliers and service providers to the industry with added functionality including: AI matchmaking, built-in videoconferencing, live streaming of content for product launches, demos and a host of other benefits.             This platform will go live on the 1st November and will stay open for 12 months, offering people listed on the platform a cost-effective way to promote their products and services to a captive audience.

Both the virtual conference and virtual marketplace platforms will be run in partnership with the South African Photovoltaic Industry Association (SAPVIA).

“Despite the current economic challenges that we face, the outlook for solar energy as a viable source of energy remains strong in the medium term,” Low adds.

Low says that Solar Power Africa provides the perfect platform for dialogue around the most pressing energy issues that the continent faces. “Finding solutions to these challenges will not only result in greater access to renewable energy sources for those who need it the most, but it will in turn reduce the financial burden that all governments experience when trying to meet their nation’s energy requirements.”

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