Global microgrid trends and major players in smart city energy for Africa

The reality is such that not enough investment capital flows into African clean energy projects.

One option to consider for smart cities in Africa is green bond issuance. Green bonds are used to finance projects in renewable energy, energy efficiency, low-carbon transport and wastewater treatment.

In the fourth quarter of 2015, the issuance of green bonds reached $15.2 billion, boosted by activity by financial institutions in the build up to the Paris climate talks.

The dearth of private institutional investor capital, such as U.S. and European pension funds, which manage trillions of dollars, is especially glaring. While utility-scale projects such as Morocco’s 510-megawatt solar project and Kenya’s 300-MW wind project have secured key financing to begin construction — the first 160-MW phase of Morocco’s project will begin operating later this year — nearly all of the capital was from public sector sources such as the World Bank and African Development Bank.
No wonder that — with 673 projects (4,800 MW) — the United States continues to lead the global microgrid market of 1,437 microgrids worldwide, totaling 13 GW in 100 countries. Alaska remains the number one state with 900 MW of microgrid capacity, followed by New York with 151 MW.
And then there is 816 MW near the Arctic Circle in the Far East of Russia.
infographic_africa_electricity4

Avoiding redundant investments in smart city infrastructure is another big theme for Africa.

Alignment between stakeholders is not easily achieved due to the varying business models of cities, utilities, and private stakeholders. Globally, technology and standards for interoperability are lagging behind the conceptual goals of the smart city.

Market barriers range from financial and business risk, regulatory hurdles to city and utility silos as well as limited access to data.

Enacting policies to reduce capital costs and risks is important. Governments can help reduce transaction costs by promoting contract standardization and securitization. Egypt, Kenya, Uganda and South Africa, among them — now have feed-in policies where the government guarantees a price (often at a premium) to compensate producers for certain types of renewable energy.
Full report by smart city experts Navigant Research,
with stats for Africa and charts like Annual Smart Energy for Smart Cities Technology Revenue by Segment, Middle East & Africa: 2015-2024 (download available here)

In terms of global R&D

the University of Tennessee‘s Center for Ultra-Wide-Area Resilient Electric Energy Transmission Networks is on the forefront of microgrid technology in the world.
Key person: Dr. Chien-fei Chen
Dr. Chen’s environmental research areas include energy literacy and the diffusion of renewable energy knowledge, environmental beliefs, attitudes, behaviors and public opinion over environmental issues.
Major Smart Energy for Smart City Players

ABB

Accenture

AT&T

Cisco Systems

Hitachi

Huawei

Itron

Oracle

S&C Electric Company

SAP

Schneider Electric

Siemens

SSN

Toshiba

ABB leads all vendors in terms of total microgrid capacity and Schneider Electric leads in terms of the total number of microgrid projects in its development pipeline. The leading resource choices are diesel in terms of capacity and solar PV in terms of being included in microgrid projects.
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