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The first Jinko Solar BESS project was in Africa. (Image source: Jinko Solar)

Energy

Ahead of the opening of the Africa Energy Forum (aef) in Barcelona, Spain, from 25-28 June, representatives of sponsor Jinko Solar spoke to African Review to describe why the continent poses a vital avenue for growth for the company and what stumbling blocks remain for wider solar and battery rollout

African Review (AR): How important is the African solar and battery opportunity to your company, especially in light of the increasing focus on off-grid supply there?

Titus Koech (TK), technical services Sr. manager Jinko Solar – sub-Saharan Africa: For Jinko Solar, a leading global and Tier 1 PV modules and battery energy storage manufacturer, the African solar and battery opportunity holds significant strategic importance, especially with the growing emphasis on off-grid supply in the region. Here are some of the reasons:

Market Expansion: Africa presents a vast and largely untapped market for solar energy solutions, particularly in regions where traditional grid infrastructure is lacking. As the continent's population and energy demand continue to rise, there's a growing need for off-grid and decentralised power solutions, making it a prime market for Jinko Solar's PV modules and battery energy storage solutions (BESS).

Off-Grid Focus: With many rural areas in Africa lacking access to reliable electricity, there's a strong push towards off-grid solutions such as solar home systems, mini-grids, and standalone solar installations. Jinko Solar's expertise in manufacturing high-quality solar panels and its ability to integrate battery energy storage solutions positions the company well to meet the demand for off-grid power solutions in Africa.

Sustainability Goals: Many African countries are increasingly prioritising renewable energy sources to meet their sustainability goals and reduce reliance on fossil fuels. Jinko Solar's solar panels & battery energy storage solutions offer a clean and sustainable energy alternative, aligning with the renewable energy ambitions of African nations.

Economic Development: Investing in solar energy infrastructure in Africa not only helps to address energy poverty but also contributes to economic development by creating jobs, fostering local manufacturing and assembly capabilities, and attracting investment in the renewable energy sector. Jinko Solar's presence and investments in the region can stimulate economic growth and support local communities.

In our portfolio, we currently have SUNGIGA & SUNTERA micro-grid solutions which are either liquid-cooled or air-cooled which are suitable for off-grid applications in the region. The solutions also range from as low as 3kW and as high as 2MW with a possibility of expansion to hundreds of megawatts.

Jinko Solar has positioned itself to offer many bankable battery energy storage solutions for off-grid applications. In the year 2023, Jinko Solar supplied approximately 100 mini-grid solutions to various projects in Africa. In the same year, the company also provided thousands of residential battery energy storage solutions to different households in the region.

The first Jinko solar BESS project was in Africa, hence we have deep ties with Africa as a region and we usually keep in mind Africa when making our key research and development decisions. In 2024, Jinko expects to deliver approximately 700MWh for off-grid solar in Africa and looking forward to commanding more than 30% market share in the next few years.

AR: With solar and battery prices continuing to fall, another barrier to their widespread implementation is being dismantled. What are some of the challenges that remain that could restrict the scale-up of battery deployment, especially in Africa?

TK: Despite the falling prices of solar panels and batteries, several challengesA headshot of Titus Koech of Jinko Solar. remain that could restrict the widespread deployment of solar plus batteries in Africa:

Initial Capital Investment: While prices are decreasing, the initial capital investment required for setting up solar PV panels and battery storage systems can still be prohibitive for individuals and businesses in Africa, especially in regions with lower income levels.

Infrastructure and Logistics: Africa faces infrastructural challenges such as inadequate roads and transportation networks, which can increase the cost and difficulty of transporting batteries to remote areas. Additionally, a lack of proper installation and maintenance services can hinder the effective deployment of battery systems.

Technology and Capacity Building: There may be a lack of technical expertise and capacity for designing, installing, and maintaining battery storage systems in many African countries. This can limit the adoption of battery technology, as local communities may not have the knowledge or skills required to leverage these systems effectively.

Access to Financing: Access to financing remains a significant barrier for many individuals and businesses in Africa. Without access to affordable financing options, even with falling prices, the upfront costs of solar panels and battery storage systems (which account for at least 70% of the total project cost) can remain out of reach for many potential users.

Regulatory and Policy Frameworks: Inconsistent or inadequate regulatory frameworks and policies related to renewable energy and battery storage can create uncertainty for investors and hinder the scaling up of battery deployment in Africa.

AR: How do you see these being solved?

TK: To address these challenges and facilitate the scale-up of battery deployment in Africa, several strategies can be employed:

Financial Incentives: Governments and international organisations can provide financial incentives such as subsidies, grants, and low-interest loans to make battery storage systems more affordable for consumers and businesses.

Capacity Building: Investing in training programmes and capacity-building initiatives to develop local expertise in designing, installing, and maintaining battery storage systems can help overcome technical barriers and create job opportunities. Jinko Solar is currently running various training programmes to ensure proper technical skills transfer to the technical experts in the region.

Public-Private Partnerships: Collaboration between governments, private sector entities, and non-governmental organisations can help address infrastructure challenges and promote the adoption of battery technology through joint investment and knowledge sharing.

Technology Innovation: Continued investment in research and development to improve solar PV & battery technology and reduce costs can further drive down prices and make battery storage systems more accessible in Africa. In the past two years, leading PV module technologies like TOPCON have been key drivers in improving solar PV module efficiency. Jinko Solar is currently working with in-house and third-party research labs to come up with next-generation PV module technologies to advance breakthroughs in the PV module industry.

Policy Support: Governments can play a crucial role in creating supportive regulatory frameworks and policies that incentivise the deployment of battery storage systems, such as feed-in tariffs, net metering schemes, and renewable energy targets.

By addressing these challenges and implementing appropriate strategies, the scale-up of battery deployment in Africa can be facilitated, unlocking the potential for greater energy access, reliability, and sustainability across the continent.

AR: Can you outline a recent project that the company has completed or is fulfilling on the continent?

Mohamad Saadi Al-Dweik – head of technical servicesA headshot of Mohamad Saadi Al-Dweik – head of technical services & product management – MENA. & product management – MENA: Jinko Solar has become a major player in the Middle East and Africa's solar energy market by providing a wide range of solutions for different customer needs. We offer the most up-to-date and cost-effective options to meet specific market demands.

Jinko Solar is at the forefront of innovation in solar panel technology. As the world's leading supplier of N-type technology, we continuously improve it year after year. In 2024, we introduced Metallization Enhancement (ME) technology, which reduces aluminium content in the silver paste. This advancement boosts cell efficiency by 0.5% and enhances the reliability of TOPCon cells.

While Africa has made significant strides in developing its renewable energy infrastructure, Jinko Solar recognizes the vast, untapped potential on the continent. We see a thriving market in countries like Nigeria, South Africa, and Morocco, and anticipate even more markets emerging with a surge in demand.

Jinko Solar is prepared to meet this growing demand by offering a comprehensive range of solar solutions. Our air-cooled and liquid-cooled options cater to diverse applications and scenarios.

The Liebherr LTM 1400-6.1 is characterised by its high lifting capacities and 70 m telescopic boom. (Image source: Liebherr)

Construction

Liebherr has launched the new LTM 1400-6.1, described by the leading manufacturer as “the world’s most powerful 6-axle crane”

The new machine presents an upgrade to its predecessor, the LTM 1350-6.1, with major differences particularly around the assembly process for the Y-guying system. With one self-assembly lift, the LTM 1400-6.1 places the guying system on the chassis, where it is then pinned in place. The hydraulic quick coupling closes automatically when the boom is luffed down between the two Y-frames. The electrical connection is established with one final movement and the telescopic boom with Y-guying is ready for use in just a few minutes.

Various lattice jibs enable the new crane to work efficiently in a wide range of applications. The fixed lattice jib extends the telescopic boom by up to 45.5 m and can be mounted at an angle of 0°, 10°, 20° and 40°. As an option, the fixed jib can be adjusted between 0° and 40°. The luffing lattice jib, with a length ranging from 14 m to 80.5 m, delivers maximum height, radius and performance.

The total available ballast for the new LTM 1400-6.1 consists of 100 tonnes of basic ballast and 40 tonnes of additional ballast. The hydraulic ballasting device is integrated in the counterweight frame – ballast assembly is simple, quick and does not require an auxiliary crane. The VarioBallast system is fundamentally different to the one found on the predecessor model. The 140 tonnes of total ballast can now be set to a radius of 7.7 m to achieve the higher lifting capacity. In confined spaces, the ballast radius can be reduced to 5.6 m. The counterweight plates are compatible with those found on other large Liebherr cranes.

The variable VarioBase supporting system ensures additional versatility. In addition to the option of flexibly using the predefined support positions with pinning options of 0%, 25%, 50%, 75% and 100%, the sliding beams can now also be freely extended between 0% and 50%. Until now, this was only possible on mobile cranes with up to five axles.

The 400-tonne crane is powered by the Liebherr single-engine concept and a mechanical drive for the superstructure. An eight-cylinder Liebherr diesel engine with 455 kW / 619 h.p. and 3,067 Nm of torque ensures a powerful travel drive.

Liebherr has developed different driving conditions to ensure worldwide, economical mobility. With an axle load of 12 tonnes, the LTM 1400-6.1 with telescopic boom and detachable hook block has an overall length of 17.8 m. On the construction site, the 400-tonne machine can be driven with 10 tonnes of ballast, a three-line hook block and Y-guying with an axle load of less than 16.5 tonnes. Equipment can be removed for road journeys requiring lower axle loads.

Liebherr has also taken pains to ensure safety in ensured at all times when the machinery is being operated. This includes the installation of various driver assistance systems to increase road safety, especially for vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and cyclists. For example, the Blind Spot Information System warns the crane driver when someone is in the vehicle's blind spot, particularly when the crane is turning. The moving off information system also provides a visual and acoustic warning if someone is in front of the crane.

Africa is home to sizeable reserves of the world’s critical minerals. (Image source: Adobe Stock)

Mining

UN Trade & Development (UNCTAD) leaders have explored the potential for Africa to become a competitive hub for green industrialisation at an event held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

The gathering was a pre-event for the organisation’s 60th anniversary in Geneva, Switzerland, and was held under the theme of ‘Maximising Africa’s Potential: Leveraging Demand for Critical Minerals to Boost Inclusive Growth and Sustainable Development’. Here, senior leaders such as Rebeca Grynspan, UNCTAD secretary-general, made clear how critical minerals will be fundamental to the energy transition and can be catalysts to lift millions out of poverty and create a fairer world. This opportunity is particularly ripe for the African continent, which is home to sizeable reserves of the world’s critical minerals including 55% of cobalt, 47.65% of manganese, 21.6% of natural graphite, 5.9% of copper, 5.6% of nickel, 1% of lithium, and 0.6% of iron ore globally.

However, in order to realise this, Grynspan said the world must break free from the past and reject the extractive model that has kept resource-rich nations dependent and poor. “Instead, we must embrace a new paradigm that prioritises domestic value addition, fosters regional integration and empowers local communities,” she remarked.

A competitive Africa

Antonio Pedro, the UN Economic Commission for Africa’s deputy executive secretary, contributed his voice here, surmising how adding value to critical minerals in Africa could help make the continent a competitive hub for green industrialisation.

“Imagine the potential if African minerals are processed into African batteries, installed into African cars that are driven across the continent and the world,” he commented. “This would accelerate the deployment of renewable energy and the electrification of transport systems on the continent, create decent jobs and make Africa a competitive hub for green industrialisation.”

However, Pedro warned that the mining boom that does not deliver benefits across society “will leave us back at square one” and called for justice and equality in how minerals are harnessed in the global energy transition. He was joined in this sentiment by The African Union Commission’s deputy chairperson, Monique Nsanzabaganwa, who called for the right policy mix and fair international structure and systems – ones that do not threaten African nation’s efforts to increase and enhance beneficiation and value addition as some do currently.

“It wouldn’t make sense to not trust our continental certification systems and instead condition Africa’s minerals to go hit another certification system just to come back to us for value addition or trade among ourselves,” Nsanzabaganwa said.

Seizing the opportunity

According to UNCTAD, African countries generate only about 40% of the revenue they could potentially collect from the sizeable minerals reserves under their feet – a narrative that must change if the opportunity is to be realised.

Amid current global crises, limited fiscal space, slow growth and high debt, African countries need to maximise the financial and development benefits of these resources, UNCTAD advised. Participants at the event in Ethiopia therefore discussed ways to enhance revenue mobilisation and fiscal administration, boost regional value chain integration and increase investment in infrastructure, skills and innovation to support minerals-based industrialisation on the continent while promoting climate action.

An UNCTAD graph of Africa's critical minerals share for electric vehicles.

Transporting the massive transformer meant overcoming many logistical challenges. (Image source: AGL)

Logistics

AGL Egypt, part of Africa Global Logistics, has successfully transported a 50-ton transformer to Zimbabwe

The massive transformer contained 14 tons of compressed nitrogen gas – a critical component for its operation – and was required to be transported through the Port of Durban in South Africa and then on through multiple countries until it reached its final destination. Under the leadership of Osama Sedawy, the AGL team in Egypt successfully carried out the operation despite challenging circumstances including complex border crossings, challenging road conditions and local regulations.

According to the company, the completion of this project is a demonstration of its logistical expertise, its commitment to supporting regional growth and connectivity, and its ability to handle large-scale, complex operations with precision and reliability.

Jason Reynard, regional managing director at AGL East Africa, remarked, “We are immensely proud of our team’s accomplishment in executing this challenging logistics project. This project is a testament to our dedication to providing seamless logistics solutions that support the economic development and infrastructure advancement of the region. Our robust logistics networks are essential in driving the progress and transformation we are witnessing across Africa.”

Elsewhere, AGL Rwanda has laid the foundation stone for the extension of its Kigali warehouse as part of its efforts to meet growing logistics demand in East Africa. Discover more at: https://africanreview.com/transport-a-logistics/agl-rwanda-moves-to-meet-growing-logistics-demand-in-east-africa

The Afreximbank Annual Meetings (AAM) 2024 were held in Nassau, The Bahamas. (Image source: Afreximbank)

Finance

African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) has launched its African Trade Report 2024 and African Trade and Economic Outlook Report 2024, forecasting greater growth in African economies than the global average

The reports were launched at the Afreximbank Annual Meetings (AAM) 2024 which was held in Nassau, The Bahamas. The latter of which, titled ‘A Resilient Africa: Delivering Growth in a Turbulent World’, analyses the economic environment, trade patterns, debt scenarios and future projections for African economies. One of the key, positive takeways highlighted by the organisation is that African economies are expected to grow on average by 3.8% in 2024 – a figure greater than the predicted global growth of 3.2%. In 2025, Afreximbank forecasts this to climb even higher, reaching 4% growth.

“This performance is reflective of the resilience of the African economy and the potential impact of the African Continental Free Trade Area’s (AfCFTA) single market for the continent as a tool to protect them from global shocks,” explained Yemi Kale, Afreximbank’s group chief economist and managing director of research and international cooperation. “Our analysis in the report also revealed large untapped potential in intra-African trade, especially with respect to machinery, electricity, motor vehicles, and food products.”

The report also revealed that African economies face several downside risks, including increasing levels of sovereign debt and associated sustainability risks, excessive exposure to adverse terms-of-trade shocks, escalating geopolitical tensions in some cases, volatile domestic political environments in certain African countries, high commodity prices and inflationary pressures, and potential food insecurity.

Despite this, the general outlook for Africa in 2024 remains positive with the research suggesting that most macroeconomic indicators are expected to improve in 2024 and 2025.

AfCFTA’s impact

In the African Trade Report 2024, titled 'Climate Implications of the AfCFTA Implementation', it is concluded that the AfCFTA offers a path to achieving the developmental goals of African nations while also addressing climate change concerns, according to the chief economist.

Kale also indicated that while the benefits of the AfCFTA can be seen, the debate on its impact on climate change is still ongoing. He remarked, “One group believes that increased urbanisation and industrialisation associated with the AfCFTA will worsen carbon emissions, and the second group believes that by emphasising intra-African trade and reducing extra-African trade, carbon emissions will be eliminated through shorter shipping distances.”

Overall, the report states that optimising the AfCFTA can result in potential gains through increased intra-African trade and investment, creating economic prosperity and fulfilling the vision of the founding fathers.

Earlier this year, Afreximbank captured headlines by announcing a financing facility to support the Government of Cameroon implement its National Development Strategy. Read more at: https://africanreview.com/finance/cameroon-national-development-strategy-receives-afreximbank-backing

Product manufacture could be anything you typically use a mould for such as vacuum forming, foam casting, food production or composite layup. (Image source: Fyous)

Manufacturing

Fyous is seeking to fundamentally change the manufacturing industry by launching its PolyMorphic moulding technology

As the world’s first, infinitely reusable moulding technology, PloyMoprhic was devised and engineered by company co-founders Joshua Shires and Thomas Bloomfield. The product features more than 28,000 densely packed pins that create the mould and, when in position, can withstand six tonnes of distributed pressure.

Capable of adapting to a different shape in under 20 minutes, the product produces zero tooling waste and makes usable parts 14 times faster than 3D printing.

"Our mission is to deliver a revolutionary moulding technology that will disrupt prototyping and manufacturing sectors worldwide,” commented Shires. "Using PolyMorphic moulding to rapidly create accurate moulds for tooling will reduce time to market for a huge array of products, plus unlock commercial viability for desirable products which currently have no cost-effective manufacture method.

"Our mission is to deliver this disruption whilst reducing environmental impact. PolyMorphic moulding is a zero-waste technology where raw materials are conserved and the moulds can be used again and again. We will remove not only physical waste in the form of materials and tooling, but also remove wasted time by accelerating product development, prototyping and manufacture efficiencies.”

Limitless manufacturing applications?

It was originally conceived to create bespoke footwear for athletes but the founders, after realising the broader potential of PolyMorphic, have extended its application to include medical and other industrial uses. With patent-pending, PolyMorphic will be unveiled in full at the RAPID + TCT event in Los Angeles which is running from 25-27 June in USA.

"This versatility makes its possible applications almost limitless,” added Bloomfield. “Much like when 3D printing was developed, the applications it could potentially be used for was unknown by its inventors. The Fyous team is now undertaking this period of discovery with PolyMorphic moulding, uncovering potential applications for this technology at an exponential rate."

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