How are renewables being received? COP27

Egypt’s COP27 Summit could unlock the rise of renewable energy in Africa and worldwide if leaders are able to strengthen their commitment to phase out fossil fuels and begin to act on that promise. Francois Dao, Vice President EDF Renewables, Middle East and Africa, speaks to us at the global climate conference.

Excerpts from the interview with Francois Dao

How renewables are being received on the agenda at COP27

Ninety-one percent of our production in 2021 was zero carbon electricity production. We have 4.5 gigawatts around the Middle East and Africa. At COP27, of course, we talk a lot about renewables in all forms. Clearly, renewables are part of unquestionable tools of production to fight climate change. We are here to talk, we are here to exchange and, hopefully, we are here to help each other take action. 

Accessing financing for renewables

It is hard for us because we need to do our homework. As you know, our business model is to develop, invest, to build – and then to operate in the long term –all these renewable plants. We need to work hard before we start to do any construction and operation. We need to prepare, to identify lands, to study the necessary resources and then make a robust project. This is where this project will start and is really the cornerstone of any financing opportunity. So, to answer: how hard it is, will depend on us.

Making projects bankable

Deploying more and more renewables in this continent is absolutely necessary. Let me give you two examples to illustrate. Morocco has the first wind farm on the continent, which is in the north of the country. Financially, we have closed the repowering project, and changed the old 15-, 20-year-old turbines to new ones. Hopefully, within a year and a half, we will have double the capacity within the same land. This has been closed. It was very much bankable, of course, with support of the local authorities. This is a great example of hard work and support from all stakeholders, including lenders. 

The second example relates to South Africa. We have been there for years despite the slowdown of renewable energy projects in the country. But we have been there with large teams, running across the country, finding the land, studying the connection, and making all the commitments to measure wind and solar resources. I am lucky to be here with you to announce that before yesterday we had financially closed two projects, totalling 280-megawatt wind from the bid window five. So, construction has already started. Within two years, we will have wind energies flowing again, and hopefully helping the country to reduce its carbon footprint. 

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