At the African Energy Forum on 24 June this year, John Woolley was one of the panel members on the Funding Smaller Scale Renewables panel session. The session was chaired by Jonathan Berman of Fieldstone Africa and its purpose was to discuss the place for renewables in the range of energy solutions across Africa.

Part of the discussion centred on the opportunities presented by off-grid solutions, particularly in remoter areas of the continent and the potential for game-changing technological solutions (such as those supplied by M Kopa) to offer a way forward.

John summarised his views as follows: "Solar and small scale hydro are the key generation technologies that will enable the further development of off-grid solutions.

On-grid, the challenge for smaller renewables projects is to ensure that individual governments recognise the potential upside of smaller schemes in planning for future capacity increases. In many African countries, the grid system is in need of improvement. There can be advantages in maintaining the resilience of the grid system at the same time as planning for both smaller schemes and large thermal power projects. In relation to the latter, significant infrastructure investment in the grid is also often required."