Imported petroleum products constitute about 80 percent of Cabo Verde’s total energy supply, while less than 20 percent comes from renewable sources, primarily wind and solar. Although 93 percent of the population has access to electricity, there are significant losses in the distribution grids, and electricity costs are extremely high. Recognizing the need for sustainable, low-cost energy, the government aims to achieve a penetration rate for renewable energy of 50 percent by 2030, with a phased implementation schedule. Making the transition to renewable energy has become an even more pressing priority given the recent increase in energy prices. To achieve its ambitious goal, the government anticipates that Cabo Verde will need more than 150MWp of new solar projects and more than 60MW of new wind farms. Partners such as Luxembourg Cooperation, German Cooperation, and the World Bank are funding energy transition initiatives.
The ECOWAS Center for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREEE) was established in Cabo Verde in 2009 with the support of the ECOWAS Commission and the governments of Austria and Spain, along with technical assistance from the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO). Promoting renewable energy and energy efficiency and supporting the region’s economic and social development in an environmentally friendly manner are the main goals of ECREE. In 2018, under the Power Africa program, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and ECREEE began a partnership to enhance renewable energy development in West Africa. The $3 million partnership’s activities include implementing measurement campaigns on hydro-power sites, supporting investment processes across the region, co-funding clean energy mini-grids using ECOWAS’ renewable energy facility, and providing data management and capacity building across the ECOWAS region. Cabo Verde has been included in a number of regional projects as described in the Power Africa Toolbox.
Power Africa is a market-driven, U.S. government-led public-private partnership aiming to double access to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa. It offers tools and resources to private sector entities to facilitate doing business in sub-Saharan Africa’s power sector. The Electrify Africa Act of 2015 Institutionalized Power Africa. Learn more about the full Power Africa toolbox or other opportunities offered by Power Africa.
Wind: Cabo Verde has relevant experience in the sector, including through a public-private partnership called Cabeolica. Energy generated by wind turbines feeds the national grid on several islands. Cabo Verde offers good and reliable wind resources (18m/s).
Solar: Small independent producers are operating in Cabo Verde, and small-scale solar power systems have been installed in some rural communities. Cabo Verde has ample sunshine with an energy/day ratio of 6-8 Wh/m²/day.
Wave: Cabo Verde has potential for ocean power that is yet to be exploited; the mean value of energy carried by Atlantic Ocean waves is 20–70 kW/m per wave front.
Geothermal: Geothermal is another potential energy source, but its exploitation is limited by scale. Islands like Fogo have promising potential, but the technological feasibility of geothermal exploration presupposes a level of scale greater than 5MW.
Beyond opportunities to export equipment, technology, and know-how (technical assistance) from the United States to Cabo Verde, the development of a local market for renewable energy offers additional opportunities. Reduced energy costs could catalyze other businesses, industries, and services engaged in the construction, marketing, installation, and maintenance of renewable technologies. Renewable energy is also relevant in other sectors, such as tourism, the maritime economy, and agriculture. Beyond the government’s strong political commitment to renewable energy, Cabo Verde offers tax benefits for investments in the sector and has a master plan for the electricity sector that identifies sites for the development of renewable-energy projects. It is the government’s stated intention to privatize ELECTRA, the water and energy production company, in 2022.