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This article is part of the Topical Collection on Regional Renewable Energy - Africa
Significant and mainly unpredicted advances in variable renewable energy technologies are resulting in structural shifts in energy systems globally causing an energy revolution. This review focuses on the implications for developing countries including the water-energy nexus.
Developing countries typically feature promising endowments in renewable resources, rapidly growing demand, and a relative lack of legacy generation systems. With the costs of wind and solar dipping below their non-renewable competitors, developing countries are potentially positioned for rapid uptake of variable renewable energy systems. The South African case provides an example of strong renewable energy endowments, illustrates the benefits of detailed energy analysis for exploitation of these endowments, and shows that this combination can lead to high variable renewable energy penetration in the least cost energy mix. The energy-water nexus is highly likely to be strongly influenced by this energy revolution. For example, hydropower has the capability to play an important role in load balancing; however, it is not clear that the necessary transmission infrastructure, institutions, and international cooperation will emerge of this potential role of hydro and adjudicate across competing demands for water. Decisions in the traditional water and energy sectors are still often taken in isolation.
Overall, the technological advances provide a valuable opportunity for enhancing growth and development prospects in developing countries while meeting environmental objectives at global and local scales. The implications for the energy-water nexus are frequently unclear, as planning decisions around energy and water investments are traditionally taken without using an integrated approach. Accelerated research efforts and fresh thinking to integrate modeling and planning around the supply of water and energy are key to realizing the potentials inherent in the ongoing energy revolution.
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- Developments in Variable Renewable Energy and Implications for Developing Countries
- Springer International Publishing
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