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Huawei details strategy to lead Africa’s ‘bits to watts’ journey

There is a strong and urgent need to accelerate the growth of renewable energy across South Africa to ensure sufficient, affordable, reliable energy supply. The country also needs to drastically reduce its carbon emissions.

This is according to Huawei, which is backing renewable energy coupled with technology-driven data and intelligence.

Huang Su, CEO of South Africa Digital Energy Business says that renewable energy is much cheaper than fossil-fuel-based options, with a kilowatt-hour of solar power costing less than a Rand in South Africa.

“It’s clear then, that solar power should - and likely will - play a large role in the world’s future power mix,” says Su.

According to Huawei, that’s just one of the reasons it has invested heavily in smart photovoltaic (PV) solutions.

By integrating AI and Cloud, Huawei has incorporated its ICT expertise with PV for optimal power generation. This allows for the construction of highly efficient, safe, and reliable solar power plants with smart O&M and grid supporting capabilities, the company explains.

“In Sub-Saharan Africa, more than 50% of the population still don’t have access to electricity. Beyond that, thousands of hospitals and schools don’t have a stable power supply. This can easily become disastrous,” says Su.

While South Africa is the leading power on the continent when it comes to power generation, it is currently unable to meet all of its electricity demands all of the time Su adds.

“There is still a massive gap to be bridged. We have to ensure we provide sufficient electricity to every African household.”

Su says. “All ICT requires power supply and Huawei has always provided that to one degree or another. Our efforts in the solar PV space are simply an extension of that.”

“Over time, Huawei will deploy more and more scalable power stations,” he adds. “These power stations can be managed and maintained online, further reducing their carbon footprint. We are uniquely positioned to bring electricity, power supply, and data management together. The journey from bits to watts is accelerating and we plan on leading it.”

Top trends

Power digitisation is listed as one of the top ten trends within digital power, according to the Digital Power Industry Work Group (DPWG).

An excerpt from the report reads: “Power digitalisation integrates power electronics and digital technologies by introducing digital technologies such as 5G, AI, Big Data, and IoT. Bit streams are added based on the Watt stream, and bits are used to manage the Watt. At the same time the coordination between bit stream and watt streams are enhanced to achieve full-link interconnection, digitalisation, and intelligent collaboration, maximise power generation efficiency, maintenance efficiency, and energy efficiency.”

Moreover according to the African Solar Outlook 2021, released by the Africa Solar Industry Association (AFSIA), overall, 37 countries globally have installed more than 1 GW of solar and become affiliates to the Gigawatt Club - the unofficial name of the group of countries that have passed the 1 GW mark.

Out of these 37, only two African countries are members of the Club (South Africa and Egypt).

“This is very little, but it may soon change as different African countries have developed a growing appetite for solar recently. South Africa and Egypt, which are already in the Gigawatt Club, will continue their solar journey and add sizable capacities to their grid: South Africa is in the process of relaunching its very successful REIPPP program of the early 2010s and Egypt continues building on the great success of both government-led projects such as Benban and decentralised projects fueled by FiT.”

“And based on government and private developers’ announcements, a group of nine additional African countries could soon enter the Gigawatt Club.”

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