The scale of the opportunity in South Africa is likely to continue to hold investor interest, including that of the Mainstream Renewable Power Consortium, which now comprises the Thebe Investment Corporation, AsgiSA-EC, Enzani Technologies and Usizo Engineering.
The consortium is supported by Siemens Energy Africa, which will provide technology solutions, and Absa Capital, which will be the exclusive financial adviser and debt arranger for the consortium.
Mainstream Renewable Power South Africa director Davin Chown says Cabinet’s endorsement of an Integrated Resource Plan, which calls for the addition of some 17 000 MW of renewable capacity by 2030, also signals a new era for the energy sector in South Africa.
He adds that, despite current frustration caused by the Nersa paper, South Africa’s hosting the 17th Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change talks in Durban from November 28 to December 9 should provide further impetus to moves to secure the first renewable projects before year-end.
The company estimates South Africa’s wind potential alone at 50 GW, but the consortium is also pursuing concentrated solar power and photovoltaic prospects.
Its most advanced project is a proposed 125 MW wind farm for Jefferies Bay, in the Eastern Cape, where key project approvals have already been secured. This project, together with additional wind and solar projects, will form part of the consortium’s first-round Refit bid.
“Millions of rand” has already been sunk into the Jefferies Bay initiative and should it receive a PPA, construction could involve an investment of more than R1-billion.
Turbines with capacities of between 2 MW and 3 MW are being assessed for the development and the Siemens’ head of energy for South Africa Ute Menikheim revealed that the group had recently decided to make South Africa its wind-power hub for Africa and the Middle East.
She tells Engineering News Online that domestic capacity is currently being built to support project developers, including the Mainstream consortium, with various local manufacturing options under consideration.
Siemens announced last year that it would invest €200-million in Africa by 2012, about €100-million of which would be directed to South Africa, including investments into creating renewable-energy capacity.
Using the renewable energy experience of Germany as a proxy, Menikheim estimates South Africa could created 300 000 new jobs in the sector over the coming years.