The Department of Energy (DoE) was confident that the review of the Renewable Energy White Paper of 2003 would be concluded by the end of the first quarter of 2011.
DoE spokesperson Bheki Khumalo told Engineering News Online that the team within the DoE responsible for the review, would submit a report, or ‘Final draft: high-level renewable energy policy’ by November 2010, and the document would then be released for a public participation process.
The White Paper initially outlined that 10 000 GWh of South Africa’s power should be derived from renewable energy by 2013, however, there have been numerous calls for this target to be increased substantially.
The review of the Renewable Energy White Paper would also take into consideration the developments that came about from the Integrated Resource Plan 2010 (IRP2010) process.
Currently, the government is working on the IRP2010, which is likely to sketch out the generation mix expected over the next 20 years.
The first complete IRP2010 draft is expected by the end of August, with the document being published for public comment by September. Public hearings would also take place in September, followed by a revised second draft IRP2010 released in October. Promulgation of the IRP2010 was expected in November 2010.
Addressing participants at a Mail & Guardian business breakfast, wind power developer Mainstream Renewable Power called for the South African government to set ambitious targets for renewable energy, as this would attract project developers and equipment manufacturers to participate in this market.
“Everything is driven off a vision,” emphasised Mainstream CEO Eddie O’Connor, adding that the target of 25% of South Africa’s power generation mix produced by renewable energy by 2025 – as proposed by the South African Wind Energy Association – was a good one.
O’Connor said that the role of the government was fundamental and that it required decisiveness.
Mainstream is developing a wind farm at Jeffreys Bay, in the Eastern Cape, and has full planning permission for the first phase of 30 MW at the site. Planning permission for 160 MW was expected imminently.
O’Connor added that before construction of the wind farm could begin, the company would have to be certain that grid contracts were in place, as well as power purchase agreements.
He reiterated that the capital cost of building a new coal-fired power station was the same as building a wind farm.
“If you look at it over the long term, wind comes in at a fraction of the cost of coal,” said O’Connor, arguing that wind was free as opposed to coal which did not have a fixed price.
A future carbon tax could also leave the South African economy vulnerable, and provide impetus for a transition to less carbon-dioxide emission intensive power generation.