6. Conclusions

The EREP model was developed to provide decision-makers and analysts from IRENA Member Countries in the West African region with a planning too to help design mid- to long-term power systems, prioritises investment options, and assess the economic implications of a given investment path. More specifically, EREP allows analysts to design an energy system that meets various system requirements (including reliability requirements) while taking into account economically optimal configurations (including both investment and operation costs) of the system to meet daily and/or seasonally fluctuating demand.

To summarise, the key features of the EREP model include:

» The projected demand for electricity, data on the existing generation and trans-border transmission infrastructure, data on planned and proposed projects in the West Africa region for new generation as well as for trans-border transmission lines are all taken from the latest WAPP Master Plan for electricity production and transmission (WAPP, 2011).

» The demand for electricity is split into three customer categories, namely: heavy industry; urban residential commercial and small industries; and rural residential and commercial, to allow a better representation of decentralised power supply and improve the representation of the load curve.

» Three customer categories are modelled to require different levels of transmission and distribution infrastructure and incur different levels of losses. They also have access to a different mix of distributed generation options.

» The evolution of renewable energy technology costs and performance is taken from the latest IRENA study.

» Renewable energy potentials were taken from IRENA's new resource assessment studies.

» The nuclear option was excluded from the analysis, as it requires further investigation into technical, legal, and economic challenges, and is outside the scope of this study.

The results presented here should serve as a basis for further discussion. The methodology will be used as a framework for further refinement of genera assumptions to reflect perspectives of energy planners in the respective countries.

Two scenarios and two variations were developed using EREP as a basis for further analysis and possible elaboration. They are:

» A Reference Scenario that was configured with consistent assumptions as used in the WAPP Master Plan, with international power trade, no cost reduction for the renewable energy technologies, and with constant fossil fuel costs.

» A Renewable Scenario with international and interregional (i.e., from Central Africa) power trade, modestly escalating fossil fuel costs and cost reductions for renewable energy. Two variations were developed, one without electricity imports from Central Africa, the other with limitations on national electricity import share.

» Two variations of the Renewable Scenario were also developed:

  • No Inga Scenario: where imports from Centra Africa (DRC/Cameroon) are excluded.
  • Energy Security Scenario: where electricity mports are constrained to 25% by 2030.

The Reference Scenario was developed mainly to benchmark the model with the WAPP Master Plan. The focus of our analysis was on the Renewable Scenario and its variations.

The share of renewable power generation was 22% in 2010. In the Renewable Scenario it rises to 56% (of generation within the region) in 2030. Given a nearly five-fold increase of electricity demand over this period, renewable power generation grows more than ten-fold in absolute terms. The overall contribution of renewables in power generation varies from around 22% in Cote d'Ivoire to 100% in Burkina Faso, Guinea and Mali. Three-quarters of this renewable power supply in 2030 is hydropower generation within the ECOWAS region, supplemented by imported hydropower from central Africa. In the Renewable Scenario, renewables could have a significant impact on increasing access to electricity in rural areas.

The total capacity additions needed to meet demand over the period of 2010-2030 are calculated as 68 GW, of which one-third is for the decentralised options. The renewable energy technologies accounted for 48% of the total capacity addition in the Renewable Scenario. In the No Inga scenario the share goes up to 56% and in the Energy Security Scenario the share stays at 55%. In all the Renewable Scenario variations, decentralised options play an important role, especially in rural areas.

The investment needed over the period 2010-2030 in the Renewable Scenario is USD 55 billion (discounted). As discussed in IRENA (2011b), adequate electricity provision has been a challenge in the African continent. Reliable, affordable, low-cost power supply is needed for economic growth and renewable energy can play an important role in filling this gap. In particular, African countries are in an enviable position to "choose their future" in energy. The Renewable Scenario assumes relatively rapid reduction of renewable investment costs. Whether this is feasible or not depends on the level of policy and private sector engagement. The policy framework is imperative for successful development of renewable energy.

This report presents a quantitative implication of a "Renewable Scenario" in which all these opportunities are realised by the engagement of governments. It demonstrates the valuable role that renewable energy can play in meeting growing electricity demand in the region. The report does so at a country level, taking into account each of the countries' particularities in terms of composition of demand and available resources, while also considering regional considerations and identifying opportunities for trade benefiting both resource-rich and resource-poor countries.

It is important to note that the assessment presented here is based on certain key assumptions including fuel costs, infrastructure development, and policy developments, which were taken from the assumptions in the WAPP Master Plan. These may well be different from the perspective of the energy planners in respective ECOWAS countries and updated information may be available in respective countries. Since our assessment is strongly influenced by these assumptions, IRENA encourages energy planners to explore different policy assumptions and scenarios that are needed to justify or to elaborate challenges associated with certain investment decisions.

IRENA and ECREEE initiated data validation involving local experts as well as implementation of modelling methodology enhancements. Modelling enhancements include detailed analysis of land use exclusion zones for renewable energy potential assessment, differentiation of capacity factors across countries for solar and wind technologies, better representation of domestic transmission mission line investment connected with higher share of solar and wind technologies.