Petroleum, Nuclear Execs Underscore Need for Energy Addition in Africa During AEW 2023 Panel

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  • Petroleum, Nuclear Execs Underscore Need for Energy Addition in Africa During AEW 2023 Panel

The second day of the African Energy Week 2023 conference kicked off with a panel discussion led by executives from OPEC, the World Nuclear Association and Rystad Energy.

The African Energy Week (AEW) 2023 conference & Exhibition – organized by the African Energy Chamber – kicked off its second day of discussions and deals with a panel discussion titled, The African Energy Renaissance: Reinforcing African Priorities Amidst the Global Energy Transition. Led by top executives from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), the World Nuclear Association and Rystad Energy, the panel brought to light the need for an ‘energy addition’ approach in Africa, whereby every resource is utilized for the development of the continent.

Despite being home to some of the world’s largest quantities of natural and mineral resources, Africa has long-seen the majority of developed reserves exported. At the same time, lack of investment has hindered the monetization of untapped reserves, with global calls to transition to a clean energy future delaying exploitation progress. Dr. Ayed Al-Qahtani, Director of Research at OPEC, explained that current global policies do not take into account Africa’s economic development needs, focusing rather on climate change policies.

“Africa has its own unique circumstances that need to be addressed,” he stated. “While other parts of the world have different priorities, focusing more on climate and emissions, [Africa] is focused more on energy security. We see the world needing at least 23% more energy in order to facilitate the growth of the global economy by 2025. How does Africa fall within that scale? We see population growing by another 1.5 billion people, 98% of which are in developing countries and half in Africa.”

To meet the projected increase in demand, panelists emphasized the need to have an integrated approach to energy development and investment. Rather than prioritize one resource over the other, focusing on energy addition will enable the continent to meet dual goals of energy security and emissions reduction.

Per Magnus Nysveen, Co-Founder & Chief Analyst at Rystad Energy, introduced the concept of ‘energy addition,’ providing insight into the range of energy resources available on the continent. He said, “Every time I talk about energy transition in Africa, I call my presentation energy addition. Renewables will be the type of power supply that can meet the electricity demand in rural areas, but for load-shedding, we need everything.” 

He continued to describe the various types of resources that will dominate the African energy market in the medium- to long-term. “Gas-to-power is going to be a very important part of the mix in Africa because it is the most flexible baseload. When it comes to carbon capture, this will become very important. It is very small levels at the moment and quite expensive. But it will become economic in five or six years from now as carbon prices increase. Hydrogen will happen, and happen fast once it becomes economic.”

In addition to hydrocarbons, hydrogen and renewables, nuclear energy is considered a catalyst for energy security in Africa. Dr. Sama Bilbao y León, Director General, World Nuclear Association, detailed the numerous benefits nuclear energy offers the continent.

“Africa should not dismiss nuclear energy as a viable solution to energy security. We are trying to move from no energy to energy,” she explained. “Africa is a rich continent in terms of resources. Yet, very few of these resources are utilized to make sure the entire continent is prosperous and everyone has the quality of life that those in other parts of the world enjoy. Secondly, very little of the benefits of those resources are seen in Africa.”

Regarding the benefits, she stated that, “Nuclear has a huge opportunity for Africa. First of all, it can provide electricity but it also produces clean energy which can be used to decarbonize the economy. Nuclear can help with minimize emissions for Scope 1 and 2 from oil and gas. We can also make use of the mineral resources in Africa. Yes, we can use renewables but we can have the 24/7 backup with nuclear. I see nuclear as the perfect partner for renewables in Africa.”

As such, the African Energy Renaissance will comprise a rich and diverse mix of energy, with every resource utilized for the development of the continent.

#AEW2023 takes place this week in Cape Town under a mandate to make energy poverty history by 2030. Keep following for more exciting information and updates about Africa’s premier energy event.