Travellers to Cape Verde will soon spot visible evidence of the tiny African island nation's big ambitions in renewable energy set against its beautiful volcanic landscape.
By 2012, the 28 MW Cabeolica wind facility should be helping Cape Verde achieve its target of meeting a quarter of its needs from renewable sources.
The technology to power Cabeolica will come from wind turbine manufacturer Vestas of Denmark. The cash needed to make it happen will come from €45 million of loans from the European Investment Bank – the financing arm of the European Union – and the local African Development Bank.
For Cape Verde, this is a triumph of Euro-African co-operation. With their first-rate natural wind resource, the technology is clearly the perfect fit for the islands. However, replicating it with other renewables projects large and small across Africa, and especially the sub-Saharan region of the continent, is a far more daunting challenge.
There are a host of good reasons for the EU to drive renewables development in Africa. These range from an ethical imperative to bring clean energy to some of the world's poorest people to hard-headed commercial considerations. China sees Africa as a major source of trade in renewable energy technology and is already a major backer of projects on the continent, a fact that EU-based companies are all too aware of.
Brussels' latest initiative to build strong links with the Africa's nascent renewables infrastructure was unveiled in the autumn in the form of the Renewable Energy Co-operation Programme (RECP).