Govt to host big solar investor conference in Upington

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The Department of Energy is preparing to host a solar-energy investor conference in the sun-drenched Northern Cape town of Upington, where the South African government hopes to facilitate the development of a mixed-technology solar park.
Speaking at an Investec power summit on Tuesday, Minister Dipuo Peters said that the conference would focus on what could be done to stimulate the deployment of concentrated solar power, as well as photovoltaic solutions.
It will deal with the regulatory, financial, technical, skills and environmental hurdles to large-scale investment in solar. It would also deal with some of the disincentives in the current formulation of the renewable feed-in tariffs to encourage solar storage.
The conference would be structured in such a way so as to create visibility of the local manufacturing capacity to supply into utility-scale projects.
The date of the conference would be announced once a time in President Jacob Zuma’s diary had been obtained.
A similar investor conference was likely for the nuclear industry, which looks set to feature strongly as a base-load alternative to coal in the forthcoming second integrated resource plan, or IRP2010.
But the Minister stressed that the country would keep its coal options open and would support efforts to generate coal cleanly. The carbon capture and storage atlas for South Africa would be published later in the week.
Government was also working to align the country’s energy masterplan, which is expected to be finalised within months, with plans to place localisation at the centre of the energy roll-out – South Africa is expected to need to build 40 000 MW of new capacity over 20 years.
In fact, Peters said that the delay in the publication of the draft IRP2010 was due partly to efforts being made to calibrate the vision with the ‘New Growth Path’ and the ‘Industrial Policy Action Plan’.
She also confirmed that the IRP 2010 public participation process, which was due to commence on September 1, had been “delayed for a few weeks”.
“We made a presentation with regard to the IRP 2010 to the Inter Ministerial Committee (IMC) on Energy on August 31.
“In this regard, the IMC requested the department to do some further work on the IRP before the IMC finalises it.
“This, therefore, means that the department will not be able to go ahead with the public participation process that was scheduled to commence on September 1,” Peters explained, while stressing that the department remained committed to stakeholder engagement and public participation.
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