Belching in the Background: Sizing Africa’s distributed diesel power landscape and displacement opportunity
Where electric grids are unavailable, unreliable or unaffordable, diesel generators belch in the background. Despite high and rising costs, demand for distributed diesel power has grown steadily across Africa for the last two decades, particularly in markets with weak grids, fuel subsidies and growing economies. Using a novel methodology based on import-export data, this report conservatively estimates that there are 123 GVA (roughly 100 GW) of operational diesel generators powering 39 African countries, with medium- and larger-scale gensets (75 kVA and up) comprising over two-thirds of the market. Staggeringly, at least 17 African markets have more operational diesel genset capacity than grid-connected generation capacity. As the gap between diesel and solar costs continues to grow, the displacement opportunity for solar is in the range of 30-40 GW by the end of the decade.