National renewable energy strategy and implementation mechanisms:
In light of the instability in the oil markets, the search for non-traditional energy sources has accelerated and the world is turning to consider the use of reliable renewable energy sources to meet the increasing demand. The diversification of energy sources and the improvement of production, distribution, and use efficiency and demand reduction are of utmost importance for the Arab region in general and for countries importing energy resources, especially Sudan.
In this article, we identify the mechanisms for implementing the National Renewable Energy Strategy in Sudan as follows:
1) The objectives of renewable energy:
According to the statistics of the Arab League, Sudan aims to achieve an overall electric capacity of 2665.4 MW by 2031 distributed over various renewable energy projects as follows:
- Large hydropower: 1092 MW
- Small hydropower: 56 MW
- Wind power: 680 MW
- Photovoltaics: 666 MW
- Concentrated solar power: 50 MW
- Waste-to-biogas: 67.4 MW
- Waste-to-biomass: 54 MW
Sudan also aims to enhance rural electricity capacity by 1100 MW by 2031.
2) Incentives for investing in renewable energy:
There is a lack of effective mechanisms to stimulate investments in the renewable energy sector. The renewable energy market is currently dependent on local and international grants, tax exemptions, and government funding. An example is the solar cell assembly plant in Soba whose capacity has been increased to 8 megawatts through an international government financing loan of 400 thousand euros in 2012. Partial tax exemptions on solar PV systems also exist.
3) Laws and legislations governing renewable energy activities:
The legal and legislative framework for renewable energy in Sudan is not ideally crystallized. Its components are still under production or under study, which means that there is no specific legal cover for renewable energy. Examples of these laws are the Renewable Energy Regulation Act, which aims to regulate the use of renewable energy for sustainable development, the protection of the environment through the development of the use of renewable energies, and the improvement of the environment for their use and security is still under development. The Renewable Energy Act, which aims to encourage the private sector investments by granting some facilities, is still in the process of preparation. The current situation is characterized by the absence of laws and legislative frameworks for renewable energy and its uses and production between the public and private sectors in a way that limits the speed of its spread and expansion.
4) Challenges of the future of renewable energy:
Despite promising opportunities in the fields of renewable energy, progress in the production of electric power from wind farms and solar plants is negligible. This is because there are many hurdles facing this sector such access to financing, weak infrastructure to launch such new stations, lack of attractiveness of the investment climate in Sudan in relation to this type of energy sectors and poor manufacturing capabilities which can offset the high costs of equipment imports. These challenges can be highlighted as follows:
- Financial challenges:
These constraints are concentrated in the increase in the capital costs of renewable energy projects, alongside the lack or absence of financing mechanisms, as well as the prevailing belief that investing in such projects represents a high financial risk, despite the fact that it is an energy that preserves the environment and is renewable.
2. Institutional and structural challenges:
This type of advanced technology needs to combine efforts between manufacturers and users and the relevant legislative and executive authorities throughout the country. The roles and implementation plans should therefore be defined and an integrated management system should be established for coordination among the various stakeholders involved.
3. Challenges related to the process of strategic plans:
The components of the renewable energy market, such as “the price of clean energy compared to competing technologies; financing possibilities; domestic and external energy policy and economic and legislative frameworks; network infrastructure and connectivity costs”, were not analyzed as constants in the strategic plans of the project; in terms of its steady development in relation to conventional energy sources. Renewable energy projects need, in the beginning, government investments to be able to settle in the studied markets, otherwise, reliance on conventional energy sources such as fossil fuels will continue regardless of the social and environmental costs. The most important aspects for economic transformation of renewable energy are financing to acquire modern technologies and expertise in the field in addition to the following factors:
1. The role of media in the definition of the benefits of sustainable economic development and the preservation of the environment in particular, is crucial. The state and the civil society are also responsible for emphasizing that the environment is everyone’s responsibility without exception.
2. Absence of legislations for regulating investment operations and the role of the private sector, in addition to poor incentives to enter into this new form of investment.
3. Absence of legislations that mandate employers to disclose the results of their social and environmental activities and to source a minimum amount of their energy consumption for clean energy sources.
4. Poor local development in the manufacturing of renewable energy technologies.
Sudan has a long way to go until establishing a sustainable renewable energy market. These are four recommendations that can pave the way:
a) Sudan should establish a clearly defined strategy to support its renewable energy program.
b) Develop laws and legislations to encourage the use of renewable energies and promote partnership between different stakeholders in the private and public sectors.
c) Establish incubators and financing mechanisms to promote the growth of the emerging renewable energy sector and technology transfer.
d) Study and diagnose the future of the national energy supply deficit as demand grows and the feasibility of the alternatives available.
1. League of Arab States, Economic Sector, Energy Management, Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Guide in Arab Countries, Egypt, 2015, p. 44.
2. Salah Nasreddine Mahjoub Ali, The Role of Renewable Energy in Achieving Sustainable Development An Empirical Study between Sudan and the Kingdom of Morocco, Unpublished Master Thesis, Omdurman Islamic University, 2017, pp. 122-133.