Press Release | Congo Can Reap the Rewards of Its Enormous Wind and Solar Potential, Study Says

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Tuesday, September 26, 2017

International Rivers is releasing a new study today that shows that the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) can harness its considerable renewable energy potential to power the country.

In “Renewable Riches,” researchers modeled the DRC’s best wind and solar sites. They found that the country’s wind and solar potential, at 85 GW, could address the country’s chronic power shortages and would far surpass the output of the planned 4.8 GW Inga 3 Dam on the Congo River. 60 GW of that energy could be installed at less than $0.07 per kWh, which makes it competitive with conventional power options.

“The DRC is endowed with significant renewable energy potential,” said Dr. Ranjit Deshmukh, one of the study’s authors. “More studies are needed to operationalize our findings, but this shows the DRC has abundant power at its fingertips, some of which could be brought online before construction even begins on Inga 3.”

The researchers honed in on those sites that could readily feed into the national power grid, limiting their search to renewable potential located near existing and planned transmission lines. Their analysis identified the sites that could be developed sustainably, excluding forested and important biodiversity areas, populated areas, and farmland.


“The solution to DRC’s energy crisis is right under our nose. Wind and solar are faster and easier to deploy than large hydropower, and this study shows they can be cheaper too,” said Jean-Marie Muanda of Actions pour les Droits, l’Environnement et la Vie (ADEV).

Wind and solar prices have dropped precipitously in recent years, while energy planners have made great strides in managing their variability. Solar and wind would be an ideal complement to the grid’s existing hydropower capacity.

“For too long, our government has put all its eggs in the basket of Inga 3 with nothing to show for it, and has neglected a wealth of wind and solar that can start meeting our needs now,” said Emmanuel Musuyu of the Congolese group CORAP. “That needs to change.” 

The study also analyzed how South Africa could meet its future energy needs. The country has factored power imports from Inga 3 in its energy planning, but the researchers found that pursuing Inga 3 could be far more expensive for South Africa than harnessing wind and solar  within the country. Already, South Africa has seen some of the world’s lowest solar and wind prices.

“The study’s findings should give decision-makers in the DRC pause. South Africa can meet its own energy needs more cheaply without Inga 3,” said Josh Klemm of International Rivers. “Relying on South Africa to financially anchor the Inga 3 project could leave the DRC adrift.”

The DRC, where just 13.5% of citizens have access to electricity, is in desperate need of electricity and economic development. “DRC and South Africa need reliable energy to power economic development and meet the needs of their citizens – and they have it,” said  International RIvers’ Africa Program Director Rudo Sanyanga. “Wind and solar power are treasures hidden in plain sight.”

International Rivers is a global NGO with offices on four continents. It protects rivers and defends the rights of communities that depend on them. 


Rudo Sanyanga, Africa Program Director, International Rivers | | +27 76 842 3874

Fidelis Zvomuya, Communications Officer, International Rivers | | +27 76 711 7460