The Democratic Republic of Congo is in the process of implementing the UNFCCC. Within the framework of its National Communication, it has undertaken studies on the country’s vulnerability and adaptation strategy in priority areas such as water resources, agriculture and coastline.4
In its first National Communication, DRC recognised the need for the country to have improved access to clean energy for domestic, residential or transport needs and industrial activities and aimed achieve this by reducing its dependence on fuels and derivatives, improving electricity generation and distribution, substituting fossil fuel energy for renewable energy sources and incorporating policies of using clean technologies in the transport section and of promoting the exploitation of biogas reserves.
The period covered by the second National Communication from the Democratic Republic of Congo coincided with a period of conflict that has caused significant loss of life and damage to infrastructure. Notable environmental degradation was recorded. Further, the impacts of climate change are already being recorded throughout the country5.
The second National Communication touches upon DRC’s energy and resource use:
The DRC has around 125 million hectares of forest. The wood potential is assessed at 12.5 billion m3 i.e., 100 m3 of wood per hectare, and annual production is 2 m3/ha. Firewood and charcoal account for the majority of primary energy consumption. DRC’s domestic energy demands result in the net loss of around 400,000 hectares of forest each year6. Reforestation is therefore a priority.
The potential to produce biogas from plant and animal wastes is immense. The total estimated methane reserves at Lake Kivu are 50 billion m3.
Hydropower resources are abundant. The DRC has a huge hydropower potential of 100,000 MW, the equivalent of 13 % of the world’s hydropower potential. Yet the domestic rate of electrification remains low, and is currently estimated at no more than 9 %, while less than 3 % of the DRC’s hydropower potential is exploited. Hydroelectricity provides more than 96% of electricity generated in DRC. The main sources of hydroelectricity are the two Inga dams, 140 miles south-west of Kinshasa. Current aggregate power for all of Congo’s power stations stands at an estimated 650-750 MW.
The DRC is in a very high level sun belt that makes the installation of photovoltaic systems and the use of thermal solar systems viable throughout the country. Currently there are 836 solar power systems, with a total power of 83 kW, located in Equateur (167), Katanga (159), Nord-Kivu (170), the two Kasaï provinces (170), and Bas-Congo (170). There is also the 148 Caritas network system, with a total power of 6.31 kW7. The potential for further solar development is high.