Renewable energy in Ethiopia
Ethiopia generates most of its electricity from renewable energy, mainly hydropower on the Blue Nile. In 2011, over 96% of Ethiopia's electricity was from hydropower. The country began a large program to expand electricity supply in the 2010s from 2,000 MW to 10,000 MW. This was to be done mainly with renewable sources. Wind and geothermal were included to offset seasonal differences in water levels. Ethiopia plans to export electricity to neighboring countries but transmission lines will need to be upgraded and expanded.
Most of the energy needs of Ethiopia are filled by biofuels for cooking, heating, and off-grid lighting. Petroleum, including gasoline, diesel and kerosene supply less than 7% of the countries energy supply. Solar photovoltaics is being promoted to replace fuel-based lighting and off-grid electrical supply with a solar panel assembly plant opening in Addis Ababa in early 2013. The majority of the Ethiopia's population live in rural areas and very few have access to electricity.
Dams built in Ethiopia provided over 1,500 MW of capacity by 2010. The four largest dams were built between 2004-2010.
The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam will be the largest hydropower dam in Africa and among the largest in the world. When completed it will be able to generate 6,000 MW, almost triple Ethiopia's entire national capacity.
Egypt has expressed concerns that their water rights are being violated by these upstream dams but Ethiopia has no water treaty with Egypt.
Ethiopia plans 800 MW of wind power. As the dry season is also the windy season, wind power is a good complement to hydropower. The first wind installation in the country was the 51 MW Adama I wind farm, built in 2011. The 120 MW Ashegoda Wind Farm opened in October 2013 and was the largest wind farm in Africa.
Solar photovoltaics are being promoted to replace fuel-based lighting and off-grid electrical needs. Ethiopia is thought to have about 5 MW of off-grid solar. Almost all current solar power is used for telecommunications. Other uses include village well pumps, health care and school lighting. A current government initiative plans to bring solar power to 150,000 households by 2015. The first phase included 1 MW of panels. The first large installation of solar was a village grid of 10 kW in 1985, expanded to 30 kW in 1989. A solar panel assembly plant opened in Addis Ababa in early 2013 capable of making 20 MW of panel per year.
Ethiopia is planning to build geothermal plants to offset restraints on power production by hydroplants due to seasonal water variation. American-Icelandic company Reykjavik Geothermal has an agreement to develop a 1000 MW geothermal farm. The first 500 MW would be completed by 2018.
The majority of Ethiopia's energy needs are met by biofuels (fuelwood) for cooking. The government plans to distribute 9 million more efficient stoves by 2015 to reduce wood use while improving air quality and lowering CO2 emissions. Reduced use of firewood should also help the government's goal of reforestation.
- Solar energy vision for Ethiopia Opportunities for creating a photovoltaic industry in Ethiopia, Ethio Resource Group, 2012
- Ethiopia’s Climate-Resilient Green Economy Strategy, Government of Ethiopia, 2011
- Ethiopia opens Africa's largest wind farm to boost power production, Reuters, October 26, 2013
- Ethiopia: Additional Units Ordered in Africa's Largest Solar Distribution Project, Addis Fortune, Elleni Araya, 4 August 2013
- New PV panel plant commissioned in Ethiopia (www.pv-magazine.com/news/details/beitrag/new-pv-panel-plant-commissioned-in-ethiopia_100009953/#axzz2ixJ6EtlP), pv magazine, 28 January 2013
- Ethiopia signs $4 billion geothermal deal, AFP, Oct 23, 2013