Africa’s renewable energy share could quadruple in the next 15 years, a study by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) released in Cape Town on Monday showed.

“This study identifies opportunities that would more than quadruple the share of renewables in total final energy consumption from the current 5 percent to 22 percent by 2030,” said IRENA director-general Adnan Z. Amin, addressing more than 3 000 delegates from 82 countries attending the South African International Renewable Energy Conference (SAIREC).

To achieve this ambitious target would, however, require the political will to eradicate stumbling blocks. These included increasing the pace at which countries were removing regulatory hurdles, aligning policies across regional “power pools”, and reducing risk for investors.

“By creating a larger regional electricity markets within these regions through bankable renewable energy power projects, the African clean energy corridor initiative will attract investment to meet 40 to 50 percent of power needs in the East African and Southern African power pools by 2030,” said Amin.

With over 600 million Africans unable to access any form of power, and with this number expected to grow to over 700 million by 2030, conference delegates will be looking to share experiences and find common ground on how the continent can decrease its reliance on costly fossil fuels for energy, and move towards renewables.

“The potential is immense. Africa has bountiful and varied renewable energy resources, including excellent solar across the continent…hydro in many countries, strong wind resources and powerful geothermal in East Africa’s rift valley,” Amin said.

“Investment opportunities in the sector are plentiful. Our research finds that renewable energy deployment in Africa can reach 310 gigawatts by 2030 on the basis of the technology and the business case that we have today.”

If countries co-ordinate their efforts through cross border trade of renewable power, Amin believes huge cost savings could be achieved, and hopefully trickle down to electricity users.

IRENA believed there was a healthy appetite for investment in renewable energy projects in Africa.

However, to catalyse private investment, African governments would have to reduce risks by ensuring regulatory frameworks were in place, and that investment incentive schemes were put in place.

“The renewable energy revolution is here and together we must ensure that no country in Africa is left behind,” Amin said.