Lennart Kuntze
Today's Expert
Lennart Kuntze
Topic: Solar energy trade opportunities in West Africa
Lennart Kuntze is part of the Trade Unit of UNEP's Geneva-based Economy and Trade Branch (ETB). He holds an M.Sc. in Public Policy and Human Development from the United Nations University institute in...
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Number of questions: [3]
Posted on 30/05/2016 14:55:40
Dear Lennart, as sustainable development remains a global societal goal on a small planet and the youths as key element to sustainable development are lrvraging on the UN conference on Financing for Development; by facilitate the UN Youth System Wide Action Plan (Youth SWAP) Conference on Energy Water and Food, Theme;" Global Financing and Development of Eco-Reswam", Eco-Reswamp also known as an Economic and Ecological Efficient Renewable Energy, Sustainable Water Works and AgriMarine Project, will the UN Charter like the Economic and Social Council and the 3rd Committee of the General assembly and other UN organisation like the UNEP, UNDP, Global Compact come on board to jointly facilitate this project with the Youths as participant in civil society, as direct beneficiaries of the Caring for Climate Initiative and the the Solar Energy Trade Opportunities ? or funds will be pleased in the hand of a few Government Representative or Private Sector Executive that do not care about our Climate- our Younger and Future Generation - and Our Environment.
ovie oniyamah (from Nigeria)
Dear Ovie,

thanks for your question. Your efforts in the context of the UN Youth System Wide Action Plan sound important and to-be encouraged. Admittedly, I do not know much about your activities nor mechanisms for distribution of funding. You may be interested to read my response (below) on funds for climate action. For some of these funds, your initiative(s) may be eligible for and could tap into (directly, or indirectly via application to national governments or secretariats).

Best of luck,
Lennart

Posted on 28/05/2016 12:11:36
Dear Lennart,

We are in the process of establishing a solar energy business and wanted to get in touch with someone from the UNEP to see if there are any fundings or other supports available for businesses interested in this field.

I would appreciate if you could advise us on this.

Kind regards
Annie Davoodi (from Iran, Islamic Republic of)
Dear Annie,

Many thanks for reaching out, and posing your question. You may want to look at different options, depending on the intended size and focus (service provider? solar power generation?) of the solar business.

In general, sources of funding / financing are distinguished into public (includes public funds and subsidies for projects that serve the public good; mostly with a climate link) and private (in principle investment capital, i.e. capital that needs to be repaid, with interest payment) financing. Public finance has several channels including aid agencies and UN Organizations, multilateral development banks (e.g. The World Bank; international climate funds like the Climate Investment Funds), national development banks / finance institutions (e.g. KfW), or direct government finance. There are also Development Finance institutions (DFI) that provide finance to the public and private sector for investments that promote e.g. the transition to a low-carbon economy. Concrete examples of funding / financing institutions in the public space are the International Development Finance Club (IDFC), Japan’s Fast Start Finance fund, USA Global Climate Change Initiative, UK’s International Climate Fund, Norway’s International Climate Forest Initiative, Germany’s International Climate Initiative and Australia’s International Forest Carbon Initiative. Their mandate and funding scope vary significantly. There are also UNFCCC Financial Mechanisms that provide non-market based financing, including the Green Climate Fund (GCF), the Adaptation Fund (AF) and the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) (Information mostly gathered from Frankfurt School of Finance & Management). From my understanding, most of these funds operate at the macro level and provide financing to governments or very large projects, linked to official development assistance objectives / international obligations.

As for private sector finance, the UNEP Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) may be of help.

Further UNEP work on financing solutions for clean energy is undertaken by the Energy Branch (especially, Energy Finance; http://www.unep.org/energy/Topics/EnergyFinance/tabid/133775/Default.aspx) that brings together first mover financiers and renewable energy project developers to share some of the additional costs related to early stage investments, and helps mobilize new and additional investments in clean energy through knowledge and building capacity of financial sector players and government institutions. Especially, you may want to check the Seed Capital Assistance Facility (http://www.unep.org/energy/Projects/Project/tabid/131381/language/en-US/Default.aspx?p=1852cfc3-65a4-40f7-a52a-230b659ff89f). While its geographic scope does not include Iran, this may provide some interesting leads, and Energy Branch colleagues may be able to help further.

In many developing countries, there are also national / local financing sources. You may want to check if such is available in Iran.

If you would like further practical information on financing of solar energy projects, you may also check chapter 4 of our Green Economy and Trade Opportunities Project (GE-TOP) Strategy Proposal (http://drustage.unep.org/greeneconomy/sites/unep.org.greeneconomy/files/publications/unep_ghana_2016_92pp_links.pdf).

I hope this information is helpful.

Best regards,
Lennart

Posted on 27/05/2016 00:46:45
Dear Mr. Lennart,
Would you recommend the construction of large concentrated solar power plants in West Africa of similar sizes to Shams 1 in the UAE?
Francis Bagambilana (from Tanzania (United Republic of))
Dear Mr. Bagambilana,

Many thanks for your interesting question.

A key determinant for the feasibility of solar power plants is cost. In 2013, Fraunhofer Institute found that, due to large price reductions in solar photovoltaic (PV) over the last few years the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE; USD/kWh) of PV is about half the cost of concentrated solar power (CSP), and will remain so until 2030. In West Africa, solar PV has therefore widely been the technology of choice, also because it offers small-scale, decentralized solutions. Another reason may be climatic conditions that favour solar PV technology over CSP (i.e. rather indirect solar irradiation than direct heat). CSP offers dispatchable power on-demand, which affords a key advantage over solar PV; however, the LCOE of CSP needs to become more competitive for realistic large-scale prospects. From an environmental perspective, both solar PV and CSP have similar land and material requirements, which makes them equally recommendable.

A similar plant size to Shams 1 (100 MW) can indeed be realistic for solar power in West Africa. Note that Blue Energy has planned a 155 MW solar PV plant in Ghana (Nzema project); there are other plant developers with similarly sized solar PV plant proposals. Such scale of solar PV, which generates intermittent supplies and requires adequate baseload and dispatchable capacity, is of course dependent on the capacity of the grid. Thus, a thorough grid analysis and identification of balancing supplies / storage solutions would be a necessary pre-condition.

Under our Green Economy and Trade Opportunities Project (GE-TOP) in Ghana we have provided in-depth analysis of solar PV prospects in Ghana and related trade opportunities, which may be of interest / further help (see http://drustage.unep.org/greeneconomy/ghana).

I hope this answers your question. In case you would like to know more about CSP prospects in West Africa, I suggest the following two studies from 2013: “Concentrated solar power: Current technologies, major innovative issues and applicability to West African countries”; “Site Ranking and Potential Assessment for Concentrating Solar Power in West Africa” (both available online).

Best regards, Lennart

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