Towards a renewable future

Harnessing the power of renewable resources like wind, sunlight and rain may not be a new concept, but it is one that’s becoming increasingly critical to the survival of our planet. As a key enabler of sustainable development, renewable energy is highlighted in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 7, which aims to “ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.”

Here’s a snapshot of the current global renewable energy environment as outlined in the International Renewable Energy Agency’s (IRENA) Renewable Energy Statistics 2021 Report

  • In 2019, a total of 6 963TWh of electricity was generated from renewables – an increase of 5,5% over 2018 figures.
  • Renewable hydro topped the list at 4 207 TWh, followed by wind energy, solar energy, bioenergy, geothermal energy, then marine energy. 
  • Solar and wind generation increased by 23% and 12% respectively, with these two sources accounting for 71% of growth in renewable generation since 2015. 
  • In 2019, public investment in renewables fell to $17 bn – compared to figures of $22 billion in 2018 and $34 billion in 2017. 2020 & 2021 shifted our focus back to renewables thought and investment, and numbers are rising again.

Looking ahead, the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) Global Energy Review 2021 predicts that renewable electricity generation is on track to reach 8 300 TWh in 2021 – an expansion of more than 8% and the fastest year-on-year growth since the 1970s.

What about renewable energy in Africa?

Currently, 600 million people in Africa are without access to electricity. And yet, the continent is well positioned to leverage its geographical location to lead the advancement of renewable energy – especially solar and wind energy.

In fact, predictions from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) are that Africa “could meet nearly a quarter of its energy needs from indigenous and clean renewable energy sources by 2030 and increase the share of renewables in its total energy mix to as much as two-thirds by 2050.” 

Growth in the renewable energy arena can already be seen in Africa, especially “in the development of its solar energy markets over the recent years, with the continent experiencing a growth of over 1.8W of new solar installations, mainly driven by five countries; Egypt, South Africa, Kenya, Namibia and Ghana.” (

Where to from here?

While Africa may have the potential to achieve great things in the renewable energy space, it still has a way to go. In spite of having one of the most abundant solar resources in the world, for example, the continent “has installed only 5 gigawatts of solar PV, less than 1% of the global total.” ( Yet, with the right focus and commitment, this technology has the potential to become one of Africa’s largest sources of electricity in the future. 

As a huge proponent for sustainability, Lithon Project Consultants puts a strong emphasis on renewable energy projects, recently conducting a feasibility study for solar PV plants for Central Northern Regional Electricity Distributor (CENORED), one of Namibia’s Regional Electricity Distributors. As a Regional Electricity Distributor, CENORED aims to optimise its cost of sales and improve the service to consumers by providing reliable and affordable electricity as allowed for by the country’s Modified Single Buyer market rules. 

Where does green hydrogen fit in?

Green or clean hydrogen results when renewable energy is used to separate water into hydrogen and oxygen. It has the potential to decarbonise industries that rely on fossil fuels. And it’s already big news in Africa, with Germany having joined forces with Namibia and the DRC to speed up production.

As Set-son Shifidi, Executive Director of Electrical & Mechanical Engineering at Lithon explains, “The emergence of green hydrogen could really put Namibia on the map in terms of renewable energy production, as the country is perfectly positioned to provide the inputs necessary to produce this carbon-free energy fuel.” 

Looking for a renewable energy project partner?

Lithon is a multi-disciplinary consulting engineering company founded on the principle of making a significant and positive impact on the lives of people. Our highly qualified team leverages state-of-the-art technology and a wealth of expertise to provide the full spectrum of services, including engineering and scientific advisory that empowers our clients to make informed investment decisions in the renewable energy space. If you’re looking for an engineering team to partner with you on your next project, please get in touch – we’d love to discuss your requirements.