Tanzania working on energy shift to fight climate change

What you need to know:

  • The overall transition to sustainable energy will considerably contribute to the fight against climate change, a worldwide challenge

Dar es Salaam. Experts identified the primary driver of climate change as human activity. The majority of these activities involve the combustion of fossil fuels and the conversion of land for deforestation, farming and other land-use modifications like settlement.

The “Theme Report on Energy Transition towards the Achievement of SDC 7 and Net-Zero Emissions of 2021” noted that burning fossil fuels produces carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas.

The earth becomes warmer due to the greenhouse effects of carbon dioxide, much like a greenhouse is warmer than its surrounds.

The primary contributor to climate change caused by humans is carbon dioxide. It hangs around in the air for a very long period.

The atmosphere retains other greenhouse gases, such nitrous oxide, for a very long time. Only temporary effects are produced by other substances.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has found in yet another study that emissions from fossil fuels are the primary driver of global warming. Fossil fuels (coal, oil, and natural gas) and industry accounted for 89 percent of the world’s carbon emissions in 2018.

A fossil fuel, coal is the dirtiest of them all, contributing more than 0.3 degrees Celsius (C) to the 1C rise in average world temperatures.

This makes it the main contributor to the rise in global temperatures.

The IPCC also noted that burning oil results in significant carbon emissions, accounting for around one-third of global carbon emissions.

As opposed to coal and oil, natural gas is frequently touted as a cleaner energy source. Natural gas, which contributes about one-fifth of all global carbon emissions, is still a fossil fuel.

For this reason, the emphasis is shifting away from using fossil fuels or mitigation resources to slow down the rapid rise in global temperature (climate change).

Tanzania and energy transition

According to 2019 data from the most recent 2020 National Power System Master Plan (PSMP), natural gas accounts for 57 percent of Tanzania’s generation capacity, while hydropower accounts for 37 percent.

These ignite the country’s grid. Off-grid capacity is still available, with liquid fuels providing the majority of the energy, while scattered biomass facilities account for less than one percent of total generation capacity.

The PSMP intends to change that to 28 percent from hydropower, 33 percent from natural gas, 26 percent from coal, and just over 12 percent from wind, solar, and geothermal energy by 2044, but it is unlikely that this combination will be reached. According to economists, renewable energy development outside of hydropower will be constrained. Hydropower and natural gas will continue to dominate, while coal is unlikely to gain significant traction.

According to the Ministry of Energy, by December 2022, the nation will produce 1,777.05 megawatts of power, an increase of 4.87 percent over the 1,694.55 megawatts it had up until September 2022.

The Energy Minister January Makamba said the added energy resulted from an increase in production of natural gases from Songo Songo and Mnazi Bay.

“… the increase in the capacity of the power plants connected to the grid system has resulted from the inclusion in the National Grid of 90 megawatts of electricity produced at the Kinyerezi I Extension Station” the minister said to the Energy Parliamentary committee on the implementation of the financial year budget for the period of July-December, 2022.

According to the ministry, natural gas accounts for an average of 65 percent of all electricity generated, with the remaining 20 percent coming from other sources like water and other renewable energy.

The Julius Nyerere Hydroelectric Power Project (JNHPP), a Sh6.5 trillion project that will be finished by 2025 and produce 2,115 megawatts, is being built by the government.

A total of 3,892 megawatts will be produced if everything stays the same by that year, with natural gas making up the remaining 30 percent and renewable energy making up 70 percent.

According to Mr Silas Olan'g, the Africa energy transition advisor for the Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI), the nation needs a national strategy plan to minimise its reliance on fossil fuels and increase its usage of clean, renewable energy sources.

“We don’t have that strategy as a nation. There is no strategy to connect all sectors,” he said.

Olang’s example of two opposing policies began with the PSMP, which continues to suggest that sources like coal should be included to the generation of energy in the 2040 plan. “The focus is energy production but it contradicts with the environmental policy that needs to reduce the use of dirty energy. So we need a common national policy,” he said.

He agreed that there are efforts to change, including surveys in geothermal sources and water sources mentioning the JNHPP but he advised on the importance of having energy mix because water depends on rain and rainfall is unpredictable.

What can be done

The report suggests that in order to advance the energy transition and draw the long-term and short-term investments required, strong climate and clean-energy targets at the national and sub-national levels are crucial within the frameworks of sustainable development and climate priorities.

“Targets must be supported by transparent governance mechanisms that guarantee accountability and boost investor trust,” the document reads.