The South African Wind Energy Association (SAWEA) launched its submission to the Government’s Integrated Resource Plan consultation with a call for the country to adopt a binding target of 25% of all its power consumption to come from renewable energy by 2025.
SAWEA deputy chairman, Mark Tanton, says: “South Africa’s electricity market is at a cross roads and the challenges facing policy makers are formidable. Yet, this country is ideally suited to renewable energy development with abundant wind power and solar resources. In other parts of the world, they have to go offshore or import renewable energy from other countries”.
SAWEA’s research – based on international best practice – reveals that renewable energy could provide 100 TWh of electricity, or 25% of South Africa’s consumption, by 2025. The bulk of this power would be delivered by wind energy.
The development of this renewable resource will create up to 40,000 new jobs, with at least 12,000 in rural areas, including Western Cape, Eastern Cape and Northern Cape where unemployment and job creation pose serious challenges .
“In addition, it will save in excess of 80 billion litres of water each year. Currently one 1000 MW coal station competes with 125 000 homes annually for access to running water. Wind power does not need water,” Tanton continues.
“Without this investment in renewable energy, South Africa will not meet its COP-15 commitment to reduce our Greenhouse gas emissions by 34% by 2020.”
It is estimated that the cost to the electricity consumer in adopting a 25% target will amount to R0.007 per kWh consumed, equivalent to less than 1% of the wholesale electricity price, while bringing immense benefits to the South African economy.
“I can predict what the cost of wind energy will be tomorrow and even ten years from tomorrow but the only prediction we can make about coal or oil is that it will only be more expensive. Wind power, without a doubt, is able to de-risk our economy and bolster the GDP,” he explains.
Also contributing to the Report was Adam Bruce, chairman of RenewableUK, who believes that the ‘twin policy goals of climate change mitigation and energy security have led a number of G20 countries to set ambitious renewable energy targets’.
“Our experience in the UK is that an ambitious and binding government target attracts large amounts of investment in renewables. Setting a 25% by 2025 target for South Africa will help create thousands of new jobs in a low carbon economy, while both avoiding the need to build new fossil plants, saving South African taxpayers several million Rand in future international carbon fines.”
The SAWEA report estimates that 80% of the 100 TWh target could be met by wind power with 30,000 MW of installed wind power capacity sufficient to meet at least 75% of South Africa’s current domestic consumption.
“Contrary to what most believe, 30,000 MW of wind energy plant, dispersed across the country, would provide an average daily minimum power output of 7,000 MW, displacing the equivalent coal or nuclear baseload,” Tanton adds.
Modern international forecasting methods enable system operators to predict the available wind and solar resource between 24 and 72 hours ahead – enabling them to bring that power onto the grid to be used in homes and businesses across the country safely and reliably.
“While wind is a variable resource,” explains Tanton, “it is easily predictable and improves grid stability. As a result, introducing significant amounts of renewable energy on the South African grid will reduce the likelihood of future power cuts”.
The Report indicates that the current South African electricity network could accommodate 6,000 MW of wind energy today without significant upgrading. This could enable the Government to set a short term target to develop this amount of wind energy by 2015, while working with industry to identify and develop the necessary grid upgrades to accommodate the 30,000 MW 2025 target.
“All this new power can and will be developed, and financed by the private sector, at no cost to Government, and be developed faster and cheaper than a state-owned body could do,” Tanton says.
There are already 7,000 MW of wind energy in development in South Africa, being taken forward by a mix of local and international companies, working to bring sustainable and clean energy to communities and businesses across the country.
SAWEA’s submission has been endorsed by the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC), a big win for the local wind energy sector.
GWEC Communications Director Angelika Pullen says, “Wind and solar energy are the fastest growing sources of power being deployed in the world today. Last year more wind energy plant was built in the USA and in the EU than any other form of generation. This is testament to the inherent attractiveness of the technology, and to the economic and environmental benefits it brings.”
Over 158 GW of wind farm plant has been built in the world to date, and we anticipate that some 40-60 GW of new plant will be built every year for the foreseeable future.
Pullen concludes: “South Africa has one of the best wind and solar resources in the world, and this gives it a huge opportunity to provide clean, sustainable and competitively priced energy to its citizens.”
The SAWEA IRP Submission will be presented to Government as part of its consultation on the proposed IRP. It was authored, reviewed and endorsed by the members of SAWEA, all of whom are active investors in the South African market.