SAIREC, which is being hosted in South Africa from 4 - 8 October 2015, highlights the opportunities renewable energy can bring to the continent.
SAIREC, which is being hosted in South Africa from 4 – 8 October 2015, highlights the opportunities renewable energy can bring to the continent

$15 billion – that is the amount the German development bank, KFW, says is needed for South Africa’s ageing transmission infrastructure.

According to a KWE executive, the South African transmission system needs to be upgraded to facilitate the increasing amount of renewable energy being fed into the grid.

“South Africa lacks transmission infrastructure, which is needed to enable the country to meet its target,” Ihno Baumfalk, KfW’s senior energy and climate project manager, told Reuters at the South African International Renewable Energy Conference (SAIREC) in Cape Town.

“At present you need to do grid strengthening in order to accommodate the additional energy generation which is being put into the grid.”

Baumfalk suggested that at least $3 billion should be utilised to facilitate connection of renewable energy to the grid.

Eskom is going to be announcing plans for grid expansion in mid-October, according to Khulu Phasiwe, Eskom spokesman.

The renewable energy programmes aim to deliver 17.8 gigawatts (GW) of green power by 2030 with 1,827 megawatts (MW) renewable energy now contributing to an installed capacity of 45,000 MW.

Greenpeace calls for commitment towards decentralised energy

In other SAIREC news, Greenpeace issued a statement saying that the conference “offers African states an opportunity to increase their renewable energy targets and make commitments towards building decentralised energy systems, which could take millions on the continent out of poverty.”

Greenpeace international executive director Kumi Naidoo said in the statement: “Countries in Africa have ever-growing energy needs, and in terms of social justice, a key priority must be ensuring energy access to all of Africa’s people.

“The vision of achieving 100% renewable energy by 2050 is indeed possible. Africa can leapfrog dirty development, and instead invest in decentralised renewable energy solutions, putting power back into people’s hands.

Naidoo added: “The African continent is ideally placed to champion a future built on clean renewable energy sources, which have the potential to generate millions of the vast number of jobs needed on the continent while stimulating economic growth.”

Greenpeace further called on government to recognise “the staggering growth that has already begun in the private renewable energy programme, and to aim to massively expand renewable energy investments through removing the remaining barriers.”

“In order to create major expansion of rooftop solar, it is time to create an enabling and stable framework, while also removing the artificial caps on investments in renewable energy.”

“Even though the private renewable energy bidding programme has resulted in major growth of the renewable energy sector in South Africa, the bidding process is opaque, expensive, subject to extensive delays, and ad hoc incremental increases which creates uncertainty in the renewable energy sector and effectively puts a cap on renewable energy investments,” noted Melita Steele, Senior Climate and Energy Campaign Manager for Greenpeace Africa.

“It is time that South Africa commits to a long-term goal of ensuring that 94% of South Africa’s electricity comes from renewable energy by 2050. The worst outcome from SAIREC would be that this conference becomes nothing more than another talk-shop, with no tangible positive outcomes for South Africa or the African continent,” she concluded.