On Monday, South African department of energy’s acting director general, Dr Wolsey Barnard, released the first “State of Renewable Energy in South Africa” report, which states that the country has fast tracked its way to becoming a global player in the renewable energy market.
The report, which was developed in conjunction with GIZ, the German development cooperation, and the SA German Energy Programme (SAGEN), indicates that South Africa “has an average of 2,500 hours of sunshine per year and average direct solar radiation levels range between 4.5 and 6.5kWh/m2 per day, placing it in the top-3 in the world.”
According to a statement from the DoE, the renewables sector has attracted a total of ZAR192.6 billion ($14 billion) investment, of which 28% (ZAR53.2 billion/$4 billion) is comprised of direct foreign investment.
Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson said: “We’re making intelligent use of our natural advantages. Renewables are a massive success story for South Africa.”
Driving renewable energy generation
According to the DoE, the 2011 introduction of the dynamic Renewable Energy Independent Power Producers Procurement Programme (REIPPPP), is the fastest growing renewable energy programme in the world and one of Africa’s largest infrastructure investments.
Head of the IPP Office, Department of Energy, Karen Breytenbach, said in a conference publication that: “By mid 2015 more than 6,000MW of electricity had been procured from independent power producers.”
With governments commitment to decarbonising the energy sector, the REIPPP programme has already offset an estimated 4.4 million tonnes of carbon dioxide, through the deployment of renewable energy technology.
Barnard said: “Renewables are delivering exactly what South Africa needs – from energy, jobs and technology to foreign investment, rural development, community benefits and working relations between government and business.
“The scope and scale of renewable energy development in South Africa demonstrates what is possible when government and business share a commitment to success.”
What makes the REIPPPP successful?
Earlier this week, ESI Africa reported that Joemat-Pettersson attributed the REIPPP programme’s success to having pooled a “sound and solid” group of skills, which has allowed the DoE to work effectively and efficiently and meet their time targets.
In addition, she added that the policy certainty around the programme as well as the integration with other demands has allowed this programme to be sustainable.
“We must build on the success of this innovation, but look at transferring skills and technologies,” she said.
Growing the economy through community involvement
The DoE acknowledged in a statement: “Over 20 years, communities, which host renewable energy projects, are expected to receive a net income of ZAR29,1 billion [$2 billion] or ZAR1,46 billion [$74 million] a year.
“A total of ZAR19.1 billion [$1 billion] has been committed to socio-economic development initiatives in these communities. The total projected value of goods and services to be procured from BBBEE suppliers is more than ZAR101 billion [$7 billion].”
Integrating different renewable energy technologies
The report identified that rural areas in the Eastern Cape, Free State, KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga, have the potential for 247MW of new small-scale hydro development—South Africa has already installed 38MW of the country’s total capacity.
According to the report, South Africa is a semi-arid country with limited bioenergy feedstock due to the “comparatively low levels of development, with utilisation confined mostly to the use of fuel wood by rural households.”
The Department of Science and Technology has commissioned the development of a Bioenergy Atlas for the country, to help better define the sector situation. This is scheduled for release before the end of 2015.
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