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Jinko Solar hails strategic importance of Africa ahead of aef

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

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.

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