National Renewable Energy Action Plan for São Tomé e Príncipe
The sustainable industrial and socio-economic development of São Tomé and Príncipe (STP) is heavily dependent on reforming the energy sector and transitioning from an almost complete reliance on fossil fuels to renewable energy (RE) coupled with energy efficiency (EE). However, introducing RE and EE products and services into the market is hampered by a wide range of demand-side and supply-side barriers, which need to be addressed simultaneously.
To address the existing barriers, the STP Government, with the support of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), has developed the National Renewable Energy Action Plan (NREAP) and the National Energy Efficiency Action Plan (NEEAP) under the project: "Strategic program to promote renewable energy and energy efficiency investments in the electricity sector."
These were prepared during 2020 and 2021 under the leadership of the General Directorate of Natural Resources and Energy (DGRNE) of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Natural Resources (MIRN) and by the National Sustainable Energy Platform (PNES). The targets described in the NEEAP and the NREAP were validated by the STP Government through a participatory process led by PNES/DGRNE, involving the exchange of opinions and information, a series of meetings and discussions with PNES/DGRNE, and revisions of the draft plans by PNES/DGRNE and UNIDO. The process was coordinated with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the World Bank (WB), the African Development Bank (AfDB) and others.
The NREAP and NEEAP provide the Government with practical guidance on how to make the energy transition a reality by 2030 and 2050. Based on energy modeling using Low Emissions Analysis Platform (LEAP) software, the NREAP and NEEAP propose a low-carbon scenario that will significantly reduce the country's energy costs and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Energy transition is a prerequisite for the achievement of important national, regional and global policy goals.
The main reference documents used in developing the NREAP and the NEEAP are: Vision 2030 "São Tomé and Príncipe 2030: the country we need to build", the Blue Economy Transition Strategy for São Tomé and Príncipe, Agenda 2030 and Agenda 2063: "The Africa We Want", the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC, 2021), the Third National Communication (TNC) on Climate Change, the National Action Plan for Adaptation to Climate Change (NAPA) and ECCAS/CAEMC regional policies. Implementing the action plans will enable the country to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 7 (SDG-7), which aims for universal access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy services by 2030.
The NREAP and NEEAP propose a set of targets and measures to be implemented by 2030 and 2050. The well-integrated documents consider urban and rural contexts, electricity and heat aspects, and important cross-sectoral policies (e.g. climate mitigation/adaptation, trade, education, research, buildings, transport, tourism, health, agriculture, fisheries and other sectors of the economy). The NREAP targets complement those established in the NEEAP, while also complementing others for reduction of GHG emissions and for universal access to energy.
The NREAP and NEEAP are tightly interconnected and mutually reinforcing. For example, introducing EE standards and the related reductions in energy demand will have a positive impact on renewable energy penetration in the grid. The NREAP sets specific targets for the RE sector with the main target of significantly increasing the penetration of renewable generation capacity in the STP electricity matrix by 2030. Section 4 describes the specific RE targets in terms of capacity to be installed and expected electricity generation. The RE sources considered in the NREAP include solar photovoltaic energy (utility-scale and microgeneration), construction and rehabilitation of mini-hydropower plants, and the installation of a biomass plant.
In addition, the NREAP and NEEAP also include targets for home cooking applications that aim to gradually replace traditional cooking sources with cleaner and safer ones that have a lower impact on household health and the environment. The aim is to replace traditional stoves with improved high-efficiency ones, to promote the use of liquid fuels for cooking, mainly Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), and, to a lesser extent, to include the use of electricity and solar stoves.
The plans also aim to change the inefficient, fossil fuel based transport system to a more efficient one. This will be achieved with a low-carbon transport strategy and the introduction of EE vehicle standards, as well as the gradual introduction of electric mobility. It is proposed to replace cars, motorcycles and buses that currently burn diesel and gasoline with electric units starting in 2040, when there is expected to be high penetration of RE in the grid. The first demonstration projects could already have been implemented in the tourism sector or on motorcycles.
In addition to goals and targets, the NREAP defines trajectories and identifies all the measures and programs that will have to be implemented in order to achieve the targets. The plan also identifies in the proposed measures the need to develop specific legislation and regulations to introduce incentive mechanisms for the production of RE (financial and access to finance, especially for farmers and productive use applications), institutional strengthening measures (e.g. creation of the RE department in DGRNE), as well as the need for capacity building of technical and professional cadres (including the support and coordination by local and foreign universities). It also emphasized the need for information dissemination and awareness raising among the population, as well as measures for carrying out supplementary studies in order to improve the local availability of information about the RE potential in the country, in addition to defining specific programs in the energy sector (e.g. for the adoption of efficient charcoal production techniques)