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Falling technology costs pave way for solar in Africa

Declining technology costs have made solar PV one of the cheapest ways to meet power needs in Africa, according to a report from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

The Solar PV in Africa: Costs and Markets report estimates that installed costs for utility-scale solar PV projects in Africa have decreased by as much as 61% since 2012. Today, installed costs for solar projects in the continent are as low as $1.30 per watt, compared to the global average of $1.80 per watt. There is also market speculation that PV costs could continue to drop by as much as 60% in the next ten years. 

Africa has seen a large increase in solar power generation projects, with more than 800 MW of new solar PV capacity added in 2014 – doubling the continent’s cumulative capacity – and another 750 MW added in 2015. 

Solar home systems, which tripled in number in Africa between 2010 and 2014, can now provide the annual electricity needs of off-grid households for as little as $56 per year, says IRENA. The organisation estimates that with the right enabling policies, Africa could be home to more than 70 GW of solar PV capacity by 2030.  

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