Local wind energy lobby organisation the South African Wind Energy Association (SAWEA) reports that, as South Africa continues to struggle with the crippling effects of prolonged load-shedding, recent indicators point to a “light at the end of the tunnel that is lit by renewable energy”.
As such, the organisation highlights that, within a short week, three key factors happened that will promote renewable energy, going forward.
According to SAWEA, these include the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) permitting the production of new renewable power, Eskom launching a daily power generation data platform, demonstrating transparency, and Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter saying that new energy generation sources will need to be clean and green.
SAWEA CEO Ntombifuthi Ntuli is hopeful that, together, these indicators mean that policy and procurement can work hand-in-hand to enable a green power revolution that will support the economic growth that “is so desperately needed in South Africa”.
Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe reported last week that Nersa has provided its concurrence to a Section 34 Ministerial determination, issued earlier this year, which opened the way for the procurement of 6 800 MW of wind and solar photovoltaic power.
SAWEA warns that South Africa’s continued power crisis is a problem that will keep recurring unless the country executes decisive policy initiatives and implements the 2019 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP).
“It is clear from the 2019 IRP that the new generation capacity should come from low-cost and reliable renewable energy sources, such as wind and other clean power technologies, especially as renewables can be rolled out within a period of 18 to 24 months.
"It is the most feasible option to close the short term capacity gap and give the country a chance to catch its breath,” explains Ntuli.
Further, SAWEA reports that this sentiment seems to be shared by De Ruyter. The organisation says he is reported, in a number of media platforms, to have acknowledged the global shift to renewable energy and that renewable power is cost competitive power, while delivering reduced emissions and jobs.
To this end, the utility has established a Just Energy Transition office, to engage workers and communities, notes SAWEA.
It points out that De Ruyter is also quoted acknowledging the environmental benefits of clean power and that the national utility cannot continue to violate regulations, telling media that, “climate change and the decreasing cost of renewable energy have proven the case for the shift to renewable energy”.
Another victory for the renewables sector, according to SAWEA, is the recent issuing of draft regulations by the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy, which paves the way for municipalities to be able to procure their own power from independent power producers (IPPs).
“Once that regulation is approved, it will open a new market segment for renewable energy procurement,” states SAWEA.
“We have also seen an increased interest from the private sector, particularly the members of the Energy Intensive Users Group, to procure power directly from independent power producers,” confirms Ntuli, who says the industry is ready and eager to help close the energy supply gaps created by Eskom’s reduced energy availability factor and the decommissioning plan tabled in the 2019 IRP.