Source: REEEP Policy Database (contributed by SERN for REEEP)
Total installed electricity capacity (2008): 929 MW
Total primary energy supply (2009): 32,678 ktoe
Ethiopia relies heavily on a limited set of renewable energy resources to meet its requirements: principally biomass for thermal energy in the residential and commercial sector and large hydropower for electricity. It has yet to develop its other renewable and non-renewable resources in significant scale.
One of the defining characteristics of the energy sector in Ethiopia is its overwhelming dependence on biomass energy. Biomass energy, consisting of wood, charcoal and agricultural residues, provides 92% of the total final energy consumed. The main uses for biomass energy are for residential and commercial cooking. Biomass residues are also used in the sugar and tea industries. More recently, liquid bioenergy in the form of ethanol has started to be used as a gasoline (E10) in Addis Ababa. Per capita consumption of bioenergy in Ethiopia is about 1 tonne; annual consumption of biomass energy exceeds 80 million tonnes.
Demand for energy is growing rapidly in Ethiopia. Electricity consumption on the national grid has grown at more than 12% annually, petroleum consumption at 11% and biomass at 6%. Access to sustainable and improved energy services are, however, still very low with only 41% of the population having access to grid electricity. Per capita electricity consumption is only 35kWh and per-capita consumption of petroleum fuels is 23kg. These figures compare unfavourably even to Sub-Saharan Africa levels.
The national power utility maintains two different power supply systems: the inter-connected system (ICS) and the self-contained system (SCS). The ICS is the national grid, and uses power sourced from hydroelectric, geothermal and diesel plants. The SCS consists of mini-hydropower plants and isolated diesel generators spread across the country.
Ethiopia relies principally on biomass for thermal energy in the residential and commercial sector meaning about 200,000 ha of forest cover is lost annually because of the population's need for firewood. With it, about two billion square meters of soil is lost annually due to erosion. Farm yield potential is therefore reduced by 2% every year. This is fatal for such a poor country, which is still not able to cover its own food demand.
If Ethiopia carries out its current energy development plans, the country will soon be more than 95% dependent on hydropower. Extreme hydropower dependence leaves Ethiopia’s power sector vulnerable to drought, an increasingly risky scenario due to climate change. Falling reservoir levels will affect Ethiopian electricity consumers and export revenues.
For Ethiopia as a whole, the yearly average daily radiation is 5.26 kWh/m2. This varies significantly during the year, ranging from a minimum of 4.55 kWh/m2 in July to a maximum of 5.55 kWh/m2 in February and March. On a regional basis, the yearly average radiation ranges from values as low as 4.25 kWh/m2 in the areas of Itang in the Gambella regional state (western Ethiopia), to as high as 6.25 kWh/m2 around Adigrat in the Tigray regional state (northern Ethiopia).
Current uses of solar energy are for off-grid rural applications in homes, rural telecoms and in the social sectors (water pumping, health services, schools). Solar energy is also becoming an important alternative to water heating in the major cities. The current total installed photovoltaic power in Ethiopia is about 3.5MW, three-quarters installed in telecom stations (mostly in mobile towers but also in other stations). Solar water-heating installations are in a thousand or so units in Addis Ababa and the major cities.
Ethiopia also has exploitable reserve of 10,000 MW of wind energy, with an average speed of 3.5 – 5.5 m/s, 6 hours/day. Small towns, villages, farms and other scattered loads in remote areas provide ideal situations in which electricity generation from wind is convenient compared to conventional diesel generation or grid connection. The available information identifies two basic zones with homogeneous periodicity separated by the rift valley. In the first of these, covering most of the highland plateaus, there are two well-defined wind speed maximals occurring, respectively, between March and May and between September and November, according to location. In the second zone, covering most of the Ogaden and the eastern lowlands, average wind velocity reaches maximum values between May and August.
Wind-power generation is now considered a viable supplement to hydropower on the national grid and two wind farms are now under development in the north and central parts of Ethiopia, with combined capacity of about 170MW. There are plans to develop six more wind farms, with total capacity of 700MW.
Bioenergy uses in Ethiopia are generally not sustainable: according to a recent study, in more than two-thirds of districts bioenergy uses surpass sustainable yields. Bioenergy contributes to greenhouse gas emissions, due to deforestation and non-renewable use of biomass, in addition to other local environmental problems it creates. There is significant potential to diversify bioenergy sources into liquid biofuels and energy recovery from urban domestic and industrial waste. The export of biofuel could be an important source of foreign currency for Ethiopia, where there is currently no significant fossil fuel production.
Ethiopia has geothermal power potential estimated to range from 700 to 5000MW. One small geothermal plant (7MW) was developed in the mid-1990s but has ceased production after a few years. The current power system expansion plan indicates that a 70MW geothermal plant will come online by 2015.
Up to 90% of the electrical energy produced in the country comes from hydropower plants. The reasons for this are found in the climatic and geographic conditions of the country: Ethiopia has a comparatively mild and rainy climate, and the presence of the Blue Nile is a major contributor to the country's water resource.
With an estimated 159,300 GWh/year of unexploited potential, hydropower is the most economically viable energy resource for Ethiopia, but only 5% of the available potential is utilized. The government has now made considerable commitment to accelerate the development of hydropower resources with the view to increase output to 40GW (or about a quarter of the total potential available) by 2015 to 2020. Hydropower plants in Ethiopia are large and getting larger; projects now under construction include two hydropower plans with capacities of 1800MW and 5200MW. There are fewer than 50 micro hydropower plants in Ethiopia, with combined generating capacity below 10MW.
The electricity losses through transmission and distribution in Ethiopia are around 20%, which is much higher than the international average of 12-13%. Most of the loss happens during distribution from the national grid to end users. The World Bank is financing projects to promote efficiency and the automation of distribution.
Low energy consumption and the use of renewable energy are important indicators for an environment-friendly and sustainable energy supply. A major problem is that biomass, which covers the majority of Ethiopia’s primary energy demand, is used in a very inefficient way, leading to deforestation and further environmental problems like soil erosion. Hence, the lack of access to modern energy services leads to traditional biomass use, and biomass use in turn leads to unsustainable environmental harm.
Public electricity generation, transmission and distribution in Ethiopia is the responsibility of Ethiopia Electric Power Corporation (EEPCo, www.eepco.gov.et), a 100% government owned autonomous utility, formerly known as the Ethiopia Electric Light and Power Authority (EELPA), created in 1956. Since 1976, EELPA was under the then Ministry of Mines and Energy. Today, energy is under the Ministry of Infrastructure following the break-up of the Mines and Energy Ministry.
There are a few very small private and cooperative power generators, but their combined capacity is less than 1% of the capacity of EEPCO.
Liquid fuels and gas market
Petroleum is imported by a government agency, the Ethiopian Petroleum Enterprise (EPE), and distributed by several domestic and international oil companies. The petroleum products market, with the exception of liquefied petroleum gas, is still regulated in Ethiopia by the monopoly control of EPE.
The dominance of the EEPCo as the sole power producer and distributor on the grid continues, and expands further despite the enactment of legislation. Independent power producer supply to the grid is promoted through policies, strategies and legislation. Such policies and legislation are contained in the Electricity Operations Regulation (49/1999), the Letter of Power Sector Policy (2003) and the Investment Proclamation (280/2004).
The off-grid market, though theoretically free to developers, is also constrained due to uncertainties regarding the EEPCO’s grid expansion plans. A few energy service companies and municipalities run micro-grids in small towns (mainly powered by diesel generators); there are also a few thousand PV home systems. But the combined capacity of these non-EEPCo suppliers is a fraction of the EEPCo’s self-contained system.
The EPE has the monopoly on petroleum products sale and distribution in the country, and is an entirely state-owned body.
The NBPE is part of an Africa-wide program for large-scale deployment of domestic biogas. The program was launched in 2008 with the goal of disseminating 14,000 domestic biodigesters in five years. It is implemented in four regional states of Ethiopia which account for 85% of the total population. The NBPE is implemented by a national coordinating office and four regional project offices. The program is supported by the Netherlands development organization SNV and installed 1,400 units by June 2011.
The background to this program is that Ethiopia is home to the largest cattle population in Africa (50 million heads of cattle and 50 million other livestock), as well as being one of the most biomass-energy dependent countries in the world. Ethiopia has 88 million people each requiring about 1 ton of biomass fuel annually. This puts heavy pressure on resources which have become less accessible as demand exceeds sustainable yields. Multiple benefits are expected from the introduction of bio-digesters into rural Ethiopia, including improving access to sustainable energy, improving the indoor environment, increasing the availability of natural fertilizer, and the reduction of greenhouse gas emission from combustion of non-renewable wood fuels. The program has installed 1,500 units to date.
The Solar Energy Foundation (SEF) developed a concept of providing Solar Home Systems (SHS) to meet the lighting and audio-visual requirements of households in rural areas. The concept was based on the realization that Ethiopia has excellent solar energy resources (5 to 6kWh/m2/day) and the SHS are scalable to meet any size of demand. SEF piloted the concept in one village, called Rema, in 2008 and has since replicated the model in four other villages in different parts of Ethiopia.
The mission of SEF-Ethiopia is to provide alternative means of electrification to rural communities.
The goal of the project is to contribute to sustainable rural development by providing services through solar systems. The SEF also seeks to build capacity for local production and management of solar energy systems.
The five projects implemented so far have provided electricity to 3,740 homes and businesses, as well as improved water supply and health services for more than 10,000 people. The plan is to increase the solar villages to 50 and users to 50,000 by 2013.
Ethiopia has signed the Kyoto Protocol and the EPA (Environmental Protection Authority). Under the Minstry of Mines and Energy, the DNA (Designated National Authority) was established as the official agency dealing with all CDM projects in Ethiopia, to follow up the Kyoto Protocol. The CDM does not improve the energy situation directly but it can be an incentive to attract private investors. However, since hydropower, which does not emit CO2, is the main energy resource in Ethiopia, certified emission reduction is low compared to the countries where fossil electric generation is the mainstream power source.
Both grid and off-grid rural electrification programs are now promoted. The grid based program run by EEPCo is called the Universal Electricity Access Program (UEAP), and envisages creating electricity access for 50% of the population by 2012, and achieving universal access by 2015. The alternate program is for off-grid rural electrification, and it is run by the Rural Electrification Fund (REF) which promotes decentralised, mainly renewable energy technologies through the private sector and electricity service cooperatives. The UEAP is progressing rapidly and it appears that all as yet non-electrified towns (of more than 1000 households) will all be connected to the grid with this program. This leaves only small remote towns, and scattered rural villages for off-grid service. These small towns and rural households can be served with either mini-grids or individual systems.Close Energy framework
A draft energy feed-in tariff proclamation, which lets the private sector contribute power to the national system was presented to the Council of Ministers by the Ministry of Water and Energy Resources (MWER). The draft bill was prepared and submitted to the MWER by the Ethiopian Electric Agency (EEA). The draft tariff sets rates for private power suppliers producing electricity from different sources such as wind power, hydroelectric and biomass. The lack of a Power Tariff Law has meant that independent companies have never attempted to invest in producing energy.
The EEA met with the Addis Ababa Chamber of Commerce and Sectoral Associations, experts from the Addis Ababa Institute of Technology, and the Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation (EEPCo) before submitting the draft proclamation in November 2011. The draft had also been submitted twice to the former Ministry of Mines and Energy for comments.
African Rift Valley Geothermal Development Facility (ARGeo)
ARGeo was established by six member states, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, with support from UNEP, Iceland, Italy, the USA and France. It aims to promote investment, share information and mitigate risks in geothermal energy development. It runs the Risk Mitigation Fund, which functions as a form of insurance to cover the losses when test hole boring, which costs a lot, fails. The fund applies to foreign investors also.
Ethiopia is a member of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA, http://www.comesa.int/), a regional organisation responsible for promoting inter-connection and trade within the member states, in an effort to promote economic development in the region.
Study on the Energy Sector in Ethiopia – Embassy of Japan in Ethiopia, September 2008.
The Federal Ministry of Water and Energy (MoWR, http://www.mowr.gov.et/) is the policy making body of the government. Based on studies and recommendations of one of its departments, Energy Policy Implementation Follow up and Supervision, the MoWR formulates energy sector policies and supervise their implementation when approved.
The Ministry of Trade and Industry (MoTI) fixes/adjusts retail prices and regulates the distribution of petroleum products by oil distribution companies.
The National Strategic Petroleum Reserve Administration is an arm of government that manages and administers strategic reserve depots located throughout the country to ensure sustained supply at times of sudden shocks.
The Ethiopian Rural Electrification Board (EREB), established on 6th February 2003 by Proclamation No. 317/2003, is responsible for the promotion and support of private sector power supply in rural areas that are not served by the EEPCo grid.
The Geological Survey of Ethiopia (GSE) is the sole federal institution responsible for the exploration of the underground energy resources of the country, including geothermal energy resources.
The Ethiopian Environment Protection Authority (EPA) is responsible for the authorisation of projects licensed under federal authority and monitors their implementation and operations. Regional environmental protection agencies have similar authority over projects that are licensed by the regions, which are projects that do not have inter-regional impacts.
The Ethiopian Rural Energy Development and Promotion Centre (EREDPC) conducts research and studies on the development and promotion of rural energy efficient supplies and technologies, such as improved stoves, photovoltaic solar, and biogas.
Although Ethiopia, according to current knowledge, is not well blessed with natural resources like oil, it does have rich water resources such as the Nile River and good potential for renewable energy resources. Ethiopia is aggressively developing hydropower plants, as it is cost effective, not only to fulfil domestic needs but also to export surplus electricity to surrounding countries. In 2009/10 a total of 1.18GW hydroelectric power was added to the grid system successfully and is planned to account for 10GW in the next five years.
Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation (EEPCo) is planning to implement wind parks in several areas of Ethiopia, which are estimated to comprise of up to 200 MW in 2012.The reasons for EEPCo’s particular focus on wind energy include the oil crises and the high potential for wind energy, especially in the dry season. The country is gifted with wind energy which is estimated to provide 5,723.3 TWh.
The government now sees energy as an important development input and is increasing capacity, infrastructure and access. The major plans for the next five years include:
In November 2011, EEPCo announced that it was starting construction of six wind power projects and one geothermal power plant, totalling electricity generation capacity for 1 GW. The renewable energy projects are part of EEPCo’s plans to increase national electricity generation capacity five times by 2015.
Emerging Renewable Energy Powerhouse
Ethiopia’s Water and Energy Minister in March 2011 announced a plan to add 5,250 MW of electricity generating capacity by building the Grand Millennium Dam of Ethiopia, which would dam the Nile River near the border with Sudan. EEPCo views wind power as a clean energy complement to its hydropower generating capacity. The six wind power projects announced in November include the 300 MW Aysha Wind Farm near the Djibouti border, the 100 MW Debre Birhan Wind Farm north of Addis Ababa, the 100 MW Assela Wind Power Project southeast of the capital, and the 153 MW Adama II Wind Power Project. Also slated to start construction are the 250 MW Galema I Wind Power project and the 42 MW Mesebo Harena Wind Farm.
Ethiopia’s electric utility also intends to start construction of the 70 MW Aluto Langano Geo Thermal project. Rich in geothermal resources, the East African Rift Zone runs through eastern Ethiopia, though the country has thus far been much less active in exploiting it than neighbouring Kenya, which in September announced its intention to generate 30% of its electricity needs from geothermal resources by 2030.
The Electricity Proclamation No. 86/1997 of June 1997 established the EAA as an autonomous federal government organ, becoming fully operational since the beginning of 2000. EEA, through the General Manager, is accountable to the Ministry of Infrastructure. The General Manager is appointed by the government through recommendation of the Minister of Infrastructure. Budgeting for the EAA comes from allocated government funds and licence fees.Close Degree of independence
Regulations for the Ethiopia power sector include the following:
The EEA is striving to fulfil the expansion of efficient, economical electricity supply and equitable distribution; through the Regulation No 49/1999 issued by the Council of Ministers, the directives prepared by the Ministry of Infrastructure and the procedures of the Agency itself, so as to play a key role in contributing to the efforts to bring about the rapid socio-economic development of the country.Close Energy regulation role
There is need to formulate and implement a long-term plan to promote renewable energies, and the introduction of innovative financing mechanisms for their support.
Providing attractive duty tax reductions and other incentives to support renewable energy technology development would also aid in its dissemination.