Just over a decade ago, solar power had less than 1%, the smallest share, of generation capacity of any major power source globally. However, solar energy is becoming increasingly competitive with other energy sources and the energy industry is set to experience a shift as solar power is expected to become the leader. Indeed, by next year, it’s expected that solar power will overtake hydropower, in three years, gas-fired energy generation and in four years, coal. With factors including falling costs and growing environmental concerns, how is the growth of solar power expected to proceed? How will it impact Sub-Saharan Africa?
The Drive of Solar Power Expansion
Falling Costs and Technological Advancements
The cost of solar energy has been declining rapidly in recent years, making it more competitive with other energy sources and one of the main drivers behind the growth of solar over the last few years. On a global level, building and operating utility-scale solar was only $36/MWh hour in 2021, down by 82% since 2010. In comparison, coal is at $108/MWh. Additionally, storage systems are making solar energy more efficient and reliable, improving the performance and reducing the costs of solar energy.
Growing Environmental Concerns
With climate targets and accompanying policies, the world is worried about the direction the planet is going in. Indeed, concerns about climate change and air pollution are driving the transition to clean energy sources such as solar. As an increasing amount of people become aware of the environmental benefits of solar energy, demand for it is likely to continue to grow.
The Lumos Effect
In the case of Sub-Saharan Africa, countries like Nigeria and Côte d’Ivoire have worrying rates of the population who don’t have access to reliable and clean power. 46% of Nigeria's population relies on expensive, complicated and unhealthy generators to have light, while 33% of Côte d'Ivoire's population has to use kerosene lanterns for the same purpose. Lumos provides households with hassle-free power, without any compromises.
Cheaper to Run
Off-grid solar is a cost-effective and feasible solution that can electrify 55% of currently unconnected households over the next five years. Indeed, while diesel prices are volatile, it can lead to those relying on fuel-powered generators to not always have electricity at home for extended periods of time. With Solar Home Systems (SHSs), they no longer have to depend on the volatility of fuel prices and can lower their costs associated with electricity at home. Therefore, SHSs are the most cost-effective solution to electrify hundreds of millions of off-grid homes and provide a healthier environment.
A Safer Solution
Whether it’s a generator or a kerosene lantern, both of them emit toxic fumes into the household, can irritate the eyes and cause a range of other health issues including breathing difficulties. Solar power is a healthier option, which provides clean light while preserving users’ health. Indeed, almost half the users of SHSs noticed improvements in their health after switching from fuel-powered generators to solar power.
A Brighter Future
Given these factors, solar energy will likely continue to grow rapidly in the coming years, with it potentially overtaking other energy sources by 2027. Furthermore, with SHSs like Lumos, individual households and small business will also be able to benefit from clean and reliable power, providing a higher quality of life to people in Nigeria and Côte d’Ivoire.