IRENA has developed a power sector planning tool for Western African countries called "EREP", for ECOWAS Renewable Energy Planning. This too enables analysts to design a power system that meets various system requirements, including reliability. EREP also takes into account economically optimal configurations (including investment and operation costs) of the system to meet daily/seasonally fluctuating demand.
Using EREP, IRENA developed a renewable energy promotion scenario for continental ECOWAS countries. The scenario is intended to illustrate how EREP can be used and to provide a robust starting point for planning analysts to stimulate discussion about its assumptions and results. In this scenario, IRENA assessed the investment needs in power generation (on- and off-grid), in domestic transmission and distribution, as well as in international transmission networks to meet the growing demand in the region in the most affordable manner. Existing capital stock, replacement needs and committed investments were explicitly considered. Emphasis was given to integrating renewable technology generation into on- and off-grid power systems, taking into account the differences among generation technologies in responding to demand fluctuation. All continental ECOWAS countries were assessed jointly, providing insights on the need for investments into regional electricity interconnectors. All data and results presented here are available on the IRENA website: www.irena.org/WAPP.
IRENA's assessment shows that the share of the renewable technologies in the region could increase from the current 22% of electricity generation to as much as 52% in 2030, provided that the cost of these technologies continues to fall and fossil fuel prices continue to rise. In this scenario, nearly half of the envisaged capacity additions between 2010 and 2030 would be with renewable technologies. Mini- hydro generation technology could become significant for supplying rural electricity demand, so that by 2030, nearly 80% of rural electricity demand could be met by the technology. Total investment required in the region would amount to nearly USD 170 billion (undiscounted). Despite conservative assumptions on renewable resource availability and penetration limits for wind and solar technologies, the share of renewable energy technologies in 2030 under this scenario would be substantially higher than the regional target for renewables in the power sector (31% of on-grid power production from renewables by 2030), set by the ECOWAS Regional Renewable Policy. Hydro generation alone would account for 33% of the total generation.
While IRENA has used publicly available information to represent the current power supply infrastructure, further validation by local experts would enhance the model's robustness. Moreover, the assessment is based on certain assumptions, including (but not limited to) fuel costs, infrastructure development and policy developments. These may well be different from the perspective of the energyin the region. It is recommended that local experts explore different assumptions and develop and compare their own scenarios to analyse benefits and challenges associated with the accelerated deployment of renewables.
With the aim to assist ECOWAS member states in developing National Renewable Energy Action Plans (NREAPs) under the ECOWAS Regional Renewable Energy Policy, IRENA and ECREEE have begun enhancing EREP beyond what is documented in this report. Over the next two years, further methodological improvements regarding the representation of the RE technologies will be implemented, and local experts in the region will be engaged in a bid to improve the data. In parallel, IRENA, together with partner organisations, has been planning to set up capacity building support in the use of the energy system modelling approach for renewable energy planning.