In South Africa, the Western Cape provincial government partnered with housing developer Van Horsten Property Holdings to construct low cost homes with renewable energy technology in Bardale, outside Cape Town.
As part of the partnership, low-cost homes in the Western Cape are expected to receive solar and wind technology installations in a bid to ensure that poorer communities have access to electricity, Fin24 reports.
Bonginkosi Madikizela, MEC for Human Settlements in the Western Cape, explained that: “Renewable energy and alternative billing technology is one way that you must look at in terms of housing construction going forward.”
He said that the acute effects of the ongoing energy crisis in the country dictated that as more people demanded electricity, alternative technology is a key component.
“If you look at the impact of global warming, climate change, [and] the power shortages we’re experiencing, we must find a different way of making sure that we supply power.”
Concerns over Eskom
Madikizela said that the focus on mature renewable energy technologies such as solar and wind was a necessity in light of the crisis at state-owned utility Eskom.
“The reality is that under this current government, we are going to experience problems with Eskom. If you look at the fact that all the power stations that we have been building for years have missed the deadline.
“Our generating capacity has decreased by more than 36% over the years, which means we’ll never be able to catch up at this pace,” he added.
Madikizela also argued that renewable energy technology presented an opportunity for local competition in power generation.
International Monetary Fund on S.African economy
In further news, an International Monetary Fund (IMF) team visited South Africa earlier this month to discuss the outlook‚ risks‚ and policy challenges facing the South African economy, reports RDM News Wire.
In a concluding statement of their visit issued on Tuesday, the IMF voiced concern stating that: “Solving the electricity crisis is the utmost priority. Severe electricity shortages‚ the worst since 2008‚ have become the greatest obstacle to growth‚ reducing economic activity‚ sapping confidence‚ and discouraging investment.”
As part of the solution, the IMF accepted that: “higher electricity tariffs and the envisaged government support are necessary to make Eskom financially sustainable”.
However, it cautioned that this should be complemented by cost containment strategies including improved procurement practices‚ efficiency enhancements‚ and governance improvements to minimize the impact on consumers and business costs.
At the same time‚ consideration should be given to further private participation to increase capacity and reduce the cost of generation‚ the group said.
Real growth and Eskom’s impact
Commenting on South Africa’s growth prospects‚ the report stated that real GDP growth was 1.5% in 2014‚which was attributed to protracted strikes and electricity constraints.
“South Africa continued to underperform peer Emerging Markets‚ and the gap with trading partners widened. As the electricity crisis has deepened only a muted recovery to 2% growth is expected in 2015–16 mainly due to the anticipation of fewer days lost to strikes.”
Eskom’s impact on the economy would be felt for some time‚ the IMF said‚ noting: “The improvement in growth over the medium term to about 2.8% is predicated on increased energy availability”.
Government was also advised to focus on improving “spending efficiency”‚ including making smarter use of technology to simplify bidding for tenders and increase transparency‚ and standardization of government contracts to reduce costs.