EIA commands renewables to be the leading source of energy in five years to come

The City of Cape Town’s Mayor, Patricia de Lille, has recently voiced her concerns around the parastatal’s decision to no longer procure power from independent power producers (IPP) post round 4.5 of the IPP programme.

De Lille said that she would take legal action should the city be prohibited from procuring the much needed clean power from IPPs, which she added is a move for more affordable power for consumers in the long-term, IOL reported.

De Lille threatens to go legal

IOL reported that the city would table the idea of pushing for legal action should they not receive the go ahead from minister of energy, Tina Joemat-Pettersson, according to the Mayor.

De Lille said that the energy minister had ignored two letters requesting the city be allowed to procure 150MW of solar power and 280MW of wind energy from IPPs.

Janine Myburgh, president of the Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said: “The simple fact of the matter is that the electricity from the new power stations will cost between R1.05 to R1.20 a unit, while electricity for PV solar and wind will cost between 60 and 80 cents a unit.

“It is irrational to deny cities the right to buy clean energy at nearly half the price of power from dirty coal-fired power stations.”

Patrick Dowling of the Wildlife and Environment Society of SA said: “Over the last eight years or so, IPPs have collectively added approximately 2,000MW to the grid (more than a Koeberg-sized power station) with a mixture of wind, concentrated solar, photovoltaic, biomass and landfill methane derived electricity.”

Nuclear is needed

Following the utility’s decision, CEO Brian Molefe said that the country needs nuclear power and the development of additional renewable power projects was impractical.

“Sometimes it’s important to confront the facts rather than be passionate about issues. On any given day I will need about 35,000MW at 6pm for peak demand. When that happens, none of the solar panels installed in South Africa today will be available since the sun will have set,” Molefe said.

He added: “I cannot guarantee that there will be enough wind today at 6pm to take us through the peak. That is a fact that confronts me on a daily basis.”

Molefe noted that the utility was obliged to procure day-time solar power or wind-generated power that it did not need from independent power producers.

“You can’t talk about competition in power production and then force me to buy from IPPs in 20-year agreements. The whole renewable energy industry’s competitive edge relies upon them being able to sign 20-year [power purchase agreements] with us. Surely that cannot be free-market economics?”

Adding that further renewable projects would not be the practical way forward, he said that he wants an increase in coal and nuclear base-load power.