Praia, Cape Verde --- (METERING.COM) --- April 15, 2013 - A new energy efficiency policy for West Africa calls for a reduction of electricity transmission and distribution losses across the region from the current range of 15 to 40 percent to under 10 percent by 2020.

This would release over 1,400 MW of power, which would contribute to helping the region achieve universal access to modern energy, improve energy security, as well as accelerate economic growth and social progress. It would also reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions by 2 MtCO2e.

The ECOWAS Regional Energy Efficiency Policy was developed by the Regional Center for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREE) for the countries of the region to address challenges pertaining to energy access, energy security and climate change adaptation and mitigation, and the goal of achieving sustainable energy for all with universal access by 2030.

The policy notes that successful programs on efficiency in distribution have been carried out in Ghana and Nigeria. Measures implemented have included optimized billing with e.g. prepaid meters, regular inspection of lines to remove illegal connections and to encourage all users to become paying customers, preventive maintenance for distribution system components, use of high voltage distribution systems, and power factor correction to reduce losses.

Specific actions recommended include:

  • Country evaluations to determine the nationally appropriate policies and actions
  • Benchmarking to fix targets and measure progress
  • Support for national action plans by providing technical assistance and facilitating finance
  • Capacity building through exchange of best practices among the regional distribution companies
  • Awareness raising among power utilities, regulators and political authorities responsible for the power sector.

The infrastructure investments for the initiative are estimated at €500 million over 10 years. Structured project financing will be mobilized, which will be reimbursed through the savings from reduced losses. Initial diagnostic studies, in the range €50,000 to €200,000, could be supported by project preparation facilities.

In addition to the reduction of T&D losses, other key targets of the policy are:

  • Phase out inefficient incandescent lamps by 2020
  • Achieve universal access to safe, clean, affordable, efficient and sustainable cooking for the entire population of ECOWAS by 2030
  • Establish an ECOWAS technical committee for energy efficiency standards and labelling, and adopt initial region-wide standards and labels for major energy equipment by the end of 2014
  • Create instruments for financing sustainable energy, including carbon finance, by the end of 2013.

By 2015, each of the 15 ECOWAS countries should have begun implementation of at least one of the priority initiatives. By 2016, the measures implemented should have freed 2,000 MW of power generation capacity.

The policy was adopted, along with a policy on renewable energy, by ECOWAS energy ministers in October 2012.