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The South African government re-affirmed its commitment to renewable energy as part of the country’s energy mix whilst dodging any mention of its plans for nuclear energy.

SA Energy Minister Jeff Radebe delivering the ministerial keynote address . Credit: African Utility Week

Energy minister Jeff Radebe delivered a keynote address at the African Utility Week conference that kicked off at the Cape Town International Convention Centre Tuesday.

The minister assured delegates at the conference that the long awaited Integrated Resource Plan is expected to be finalised in August this year.

Radebe also re-affirmed South Africa’s commitment to partnerships with independent power producers as he hailed his government’s “very successful independent power producers procurement programme”.

Renewable energy milestones

Highlighting the success of renewable energy in South Africa, he said: “To date we have concluded 91 projects with a capacity of 63,000MW. Of this, 62 of these projects have the combined capacity of 3,800MW, which already is connected to the grid.”

He also told delegates that the country has seen a ‘"significant decline in tariffs of about 55% for wind and 76% for solar".

Radebe said about R136 billion has been invested in the South African economy with another R56 billion to be invested over the next three to five years when construction of 27 renewable power projects signed in April, will commence.

The energy minister further noted the 39,000 jobs created for South Africans with these projects, the estimated 23 million tons of carbon dioxide reduction and the substantial savings of water.

EU commend recommitment to renewables

Also speaking at the event, European Union Ambassador to South Africa Marcus Cornaro, welcomed South Africa’s recommitment to the renewable energy sector.

Cornaro said this will help “reinforce investor confidence in the sector," adding that, “the EU sees itself in a threefold role as a development partner, as a foreign direct investor and partner in research and innovation in Africa, and specifically South Africa. The EU remains a prominent investor in the energy sector.”

A total of 14 EU-based companies are exhibiting their latest innovations at the African Utility Week conference and are looking for partners in Africa, Cornaro pointed out.

He also called for strong leadership and citizen participation on national regional, multinational and global level. “This will determine our ability to leapfrog in the development of sustainable energy and water sectors.”

Meanwhile, interim Eskom CEO Phakamani Hadebe in his address called on Africa to unite on energy issues calling access to electricity a human right.

“Africa has a common purpose, which we all have to pursue. The question then is how to create the infrastructure needed for growth and create opportunities. It’s a huge challenge," Hadebe said.

It is only in creating the environment conducive for growth and opportunities that “Africans will not risk their lives to cross the ocean in search for opportunities,” he added.

The conference ends on Thursday, 17 May with a specific focus on nuclear energy.

- written by Alicestine October

African Utility Week