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Z'ev Gross's Comments

October 04, 2012

Unlocking Africa's Renewable Energy Potential

Thank you all for a truly comprehensive shot at putting as many issues as possible on the table.

With all due respect - I am hearing the words of the "generators" without hearing the issues of the "transmitters", the "distributors" or, for that matter - the customer.

At present technology developemtn levels, the greatest challemge to the supply of African non-urban power is the lack of distribution infrastructure, on the one hand, and the pitifully little demand that would be taken up by the rural sector due to its economic situation. The article shows a clear understanding of that issue when it place a heavy emphasis on the importance of biomass generated power as the engine to renewable energy. But even with that - there will be little money in the periphery (which in Africa is a stone's throw away from urban centers)to support more than the most primitive decentralized biomass generation. Economy of scale you ask? THAT requires transmission - and who invests there? Even in the West?

The key is the integration of the power plant into the local economy, serving the economy NOT AS A UTILITY but rather as an ENGINE OF DEVELOPMENT. Power plants require fuel - feedstock in biomass lingo - which must be gathered, stored. There is a need for microgrid deployment and maintenance. There is a need for security of supply (i.e. theft prevention). There is the ability to select initial customers to drive businesses and public entities along with the micro demand of the residential sector.

There is a need for integration, there is a need for finance - I agree the private sector must be engaged, but it is proper engagement that can put all on track.

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