A Systematic Approach To the Implementation of Renewable Energy Under Different Climate Change Scenarios: Achieving Sustainable and Resilient Energy Access In The East African Community

  • Romeo Sosthene Nkurunziza

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy

Abstract

Despite abundant renewable energy resources in the East African Community (EAC) geographical region, energy access is very low with less than 20% of the population having reliable access. Modern energy provision in the region is still heavily dependent on hydropower which contributes to the generation of more than 50% of the electricity used in the area. There is clear evidence that the hydropower plants in the region are operating below capacity due to drought. The hydropower production deficit is often met
by fossil fuel power generators, which are not sustainable due to their cost and resulting environmental pollution. The existing modern energy provision in the EAC has been found to be inadequate, variable and unreliable and cannot solve the energy access problem in the region. Therefore, harnessing renewable energy from various sources will lead to a sustainable, reliable and climate-resilient energy supply by reducing dependency
on fossil fuel, with its inherent costs and potential for environmental damage, as well as buffering hydropower generation shortfalls.

Even though the region has recently developed a renewable energy implementation plan, so far no comprehensive research has been carried out to explore the ways various energy sources in the EAC can be harnessed to reduce the energy access gap caused by shortfalls in hydropower generation. In response to this gap in knowledge, this research investigates a systematic approach for achieving a reliable, sustainable, and climate-resilient energy
supply in the EAC under different climate change scenarios.

Data from the Co-ordinated Regional Climate Downscaling Experiment (CORDEXAFRICA) project was used as the basis for future climate prediction. Climate data from 17 CORDEX-AFRICA Regional Climate Models for the time period of 2021 to 2100,
under both representative Concentration Pathways (RCP) RCP4.5 and 8.5 climate scenarios, were used in a multi-model ensemble (MME). From 2021-2100, under both RCP4.5 and 8.5, precipitation and wind speed are always complementary irrespective of
the levels of solar irradiance. In addition, it is predicted that precipitation and solar irradiance are complementary when there is a low level of available wind, but showed little or no complementarity for the periods when the wind availability levels are higher. It is also predicted that there will be no complementarity between solar and wind speed during periods of high precipitation, but good complementarity during periods of low
levels of precipitation. Moreover, hydro and wind power sources are geographically dispersed because the Western parts of the EAC have more precipitation than the Eastern parts.

This research concluded that the potential ability of hydro, wind and solar energy resources in the EAC to provide a balanced supply is strong, which could compensate for local and country level imbalances. The research developed a Decision Support
Framework which provides a methodological pathway for renewable energy stakeholders when developing policy, strategies and future plans to implement a renewable energy mix
at scale in the EAC.

This study has pioneered the use of a mixture of renewable energy sources and recommends that future research is commissioned for the retrofitting of the existing infrastructure with smart grids, to accommodate periods when the electricity supply is intermittent.
Date of Award2020
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorAndrew Arewa (Supervisor), George Agyekum-Mensah (Supervisor) & Abdullahi Ahmed (Supervisor)

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