Leapfrogging to renewable energy : the opportunity for unmet electricity markets
CITATION: Batinge, B., Musango, J. K. & Brent, A. C. 2017. Leapfrogging to renewable energy : the opportunity for unmet electricity markets. South African Journal of Industrial Engineering, 28(4):32-49, doi:10.7166/28-4-1702.
The original publication is available at http://sajie.journals.ac.za
Electricity plays a crucial role in the socio-economic development of any country. Developing countries, however, unlike their developed counterparts, do not have electricity markets that are fully satisfied, nor are they ‘laden’ with large-scale infrastructure that could create inertia about making the transition. The objective of this paper is to identify the potential trajectories for unmet electricity markets in sub-Saharan Africa to leapfrog to renewable energy as they strive to accelerate access to electricity. The following key drivers of renewable energy leapfrogging in unmet electricity markets were identified from the review: the need to achieve sustainability targets; the availability of renewable energy resources on a sufficient scale; growing investment in renewable energy; maturing niche renewable technologies; a weakening renewable energy cost hypothesis; and a growing population and increasing urbanisation. The paper further conceptualised three potential transition paradigms: revolutionary, scattered, and coned pathways. These paradigms were defined by the pace and magnitude of the transition that can be observed, and depend on the intensity of the identified drivers in a specific unmet electricity market. The paper argues that the largely unmet electricity market in sub-Saharan Africa provides an opportunity to leapfrog the fossil-intensive energy regime to adopt a renewable energy regime.