Currently, Benin's electricity consumption is well below the global average of 410 watts per person. The generation of electricity is mostly from fossil fuels, contributing to a considerable amount of carbon emissions. Low-carbon energy sources like nuclear, wind, and solar represent a virtually insignificant part of the electricity mix. Low levels of electricity generation have several unfavorable implications. Benin's economy is struggling with the hindrances of inadequate power supply, including slow industrial development and limited access to modern amenities for the population. Moreover, the dependency on fossil fuels exacerbates the situation by contributing to climate change.
Considering the successful models from around the world, Benin can take strides to increase its low-carbon electricity generation. Given the country's favorable geographical location, solar energy, similar to what is successfully harnessed in countries like China, India, and Australia, seems a viable green energy source to consider. Additionally, the experience of countries such as Brazil and Spain, which have succeeded in effectively using wind energy, offers insightful lessons that Benin can learn from. Moreover, despite being a smaller country, Benin can still explore nuclear energy. Numerous nations, including the United States, France, and Japan, have showcased the efficiency of nuclear energy in their electricity mix.
The history of low-carbon electricity in Benin is not robust. In fact, close to none or zero Terawatt-hours (TWh) of electricity was generated from low-carbon sources like hydro, solar and biofuels from 1997 to 2019. Indeed, the consistently zero generation of electricity from hydro, despite being rich in water resources, suggests a missed opportunity. The turning point came in 2006, when biofuels were introduced into the electricity mix. However, much like hydro and solar, zero TWh of electricity was generated from biofuels too. This history of almost negligible low-carbon electricity in Benin underscores the need for a substantial shift in its energy policy, steering towards sustainable, clean energy such as solar, wind, and possibly nuclear energy.