The South African Wind Energy Association (SAWEA) have expressed their delight over the rapid growth of the renewable energy sector in South Africa, with the government making significant progress in developing policies and passing suitable legislation.
The energy sector has been a thorn in the foot of the entire country for well over a decade, with State-Owned Enterprise, Eskom, being the sole power provider in the country. Rolling blackouts – what Eskom euphemistically calls “load shedding” – have been carried out due to a lack of capacity.
However, after revelations in June that the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) would be entering into agreements with existing renewables independent power producers (IPPs) to procure 128 MW of additional energy from wind and solar farms, it appears that the South African government is addressing the energy crisis with the logical approach. This involves revamping the existing, failing infrastructure with sustainable power producers such as wind turbines and solar farms. And SAWEA has given the government credit for their efforts.
“We started the year with a firm commitment from President Cyril Ramaphosa, during his State of the Nation Address, to take measures to rapidly and significantly increase generation capacity outside of State-owned power utility Eskom in order to address the energy crisis, which prefaced a number of Ministerial determinations and other clear statements of support for the sector,” says SAWEA CEO Ntombifuthi Ntuli, as reported by Engineering News. “With supporting policy and smooth procurement rounds, the renewable power sector certainly has a key role to play in rebuilding the country, serving as a significant catalyst of economic growth”.
More than 10,000MW of coal-fired power is set to be decommissioned by Eskom over the next decade, with CEO Andre De Ruyterhas affirming the role of renewable energy, confirming that the technology’s place in Eskom’s portfolio is imperative as it can bring capacity into the grid faster, reliably and cost effectively in order to close the capacity gap.
The wind sector has already developed several projects and achieved all the necessary authorisations. This means that the sector is ready to deliver on the allocated annual wind power capacity of 1600 MW, in line with the national power plan, totalling 14.4 GW over the next ten years. The bid window 4 wind farms will provide an additional 1.3 GW of new power capacity. This includes the 110 MW Perdekraal East Wind Farm, in the Western Cape, the 32 MW Excelsior Wind Farm, in the Western Cape, the 140 MW Kangnas Wind Farm, in the Northern Cape, and the 139 MW Nxuba Wind Farm, in the Eastern Cape.
“We are therefore encouraged that our sector is being recognised for its delivery of clean power that is affordable,” Ntuli adds. “Additionally, clean technology is seen to be offering hope for our country to meet energy demand on a localised level and even fulfil our international obligation to decarbonise our power sector”.