Angola’s renewable energy future

 By Peter Ward

Angola is one of the largest producers of oil in Africa, but the country found on the western coast of the continent is setting ambitious goals for its renewable energy production…

Angola is still recovering from a 27-year civil war that has brought political, social and economic strife since its independence. Portuguese colonial masters withdrew from the country in 1975, sparking a bitter war which lasted until 2002.
Angola’s oil is mostly found in the Cabinda province, which is still influenced by a separatist conflict. Perhaps partially because of this, the country has sought to make renewable energy a priority.

Power mix goals

The Ministry of Energy and Water in Angola predicts that by the end of 2018, the country’s power mix will be made up of 64 percent hydropower, 12 percent natural gas, and 24 percent fossil fuels, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.

One of the major goals of Angola’s renewable energy is to provide energy to the off-grid areas of the country that are also racked with poverty. Some Angolans in rural areas have invested in their own solar panels as a means to light their homes and keep their businesses running.
“The goal for the off-grid situation is to ease the accomplishment of several activities that support the rural development and that relieve them from poverty, as well as to guarantee that communities living in non-electrified areas may access to safer and better quality energy sources,” the country’s Angola Energy 2025 website says.

Hydropower potential

Hydropower makes a lot of sense for Angola, as it has many rivers. According to the International Hydropower Association, the country’s potential hydropower capacity is among the highest in Africa, thought to be 18,200 MW. As the country looks to grow its population and economy in the coming years, it’s no surprise the Angolan government has put such high importance on hydropower development. The country wants to increase its hydropower generation capacity from around 1,200 MW currently to 9,000 MW by 2025.

Laúca dam, Angola

A number of hydropower plants are located on the Kwanza River, which is the largest river in Angola. These include the Capanda plant and the Cambambe plant, which increased its capacity to 260 MW in 2016 and is still being upgraded. When it is complete, the plant will have an installed capacity of 960 MW.
In late 2016, the Angolan Government secured a loan from the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China to build the Caculo Cabaca hydropower project, which is expected to take over six years to build. The plant is to be located in the Middle Kwanza, and will provide power to the domestic market and neighboring countries that are part of the Southern African Power Pool.

Solar solutions

Angola isn’t just targeting an increase in hydropower, however, and has its eye on other forms of renewable energy. In June 2014 it was revealed the Ministry of energy and Water had completed mapping studies for a potential 55 GW solar power plant and 3 GW in wind power. The Angolan government’s 2025 energy plan sets a target for 100 MW of solar power projects, including 22 MW which will focus on rural electrification.
The Angolan government’s plans also include 100 MW of wind energy. And the 2025 Energy Strategy includes 500 MW of energy production from biomass through agriculture forestry, livestock, and solid waste sources. In total, renewables are expected to account for around 8 percent of the country’s total installed capacity by 2025.
Angola has many challenges to overcome as it grows in the next few decades, but has taken a large step to securing a happier future for its population by making a large bet on renewables in the years to come.

READ MORE: The leapfrog generation in Africa by Jim McClelland

about the author
Peter Ward
Business and technology reporter based in New York. MA in Business Journalism at Columbia University Journalism School 2013. Five years experience reporting in the U.S., the U.K., and the Middle East.