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Jun 19, 2009

19/06/2009 (On-The-Air)

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Every Friday morning, SAfms AMLive’s radio anchor Tim Modise speaks to Martin Creamer, publishing editor of Engineering News and Mining Weekly. Reported here is this Friday’s At the Coalface transcript:

Modise: South Africa’s wind energy capacity could be 300 MW by 2012, a new study indicates. Tell us more.

Creamer: Yes, researchers Frost & Sullivan have come up with this figure of 300 MW through wind energy by 2012, which is a very modest amount of megawatts and less then 1 % of the capacity to produce energy that we have in South Africa.

Also, it is quite enlightening because it means that we are so far behind North Africa at moment, if you look at Cairo, it now has a wind-energy capacity of 365 MW, and of the additional 100 MW that came in on the continent last year, it was Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia that took the lion’s share of that.

So definitely South Africa falling behind on the wind-energy front even on its own continent and wind energy expected to triple in the next five years. It means that South Africa needs to really get some more accurate data on the wind speeds and variations and specific sites, so that they can attract investors at a time when project finance is fairly tight.

Modise: Talking about energy, large-scale solar-power projects may be included in South Africa’s renewable energy plans.

Creamer: National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa), our energy regulator, brought in these new renewable energy feed-in tariffs and they covered the part of solar energy that was the concentrated solar power, landfills, gas and all the others.

But, they neglected to have a tariff for large-scale photovoltaic solar projects about 1 MW. This lead to a howl of protest, obviously from the suppliers of the photovoltaic power project from solar. So, now it seems that after a study has been done by Camco, a climate-change body, perhaps there will be a relook at accommodating photovoltaics within the spectrum of the feed-in tariffs that Nersa is offering.

The tariff needed, it seems, will be the highest, something like R2,98 kWh. We saw that with solar power lower down the line, for concentrated solar power, they were offering a tariff of R2,10 kWh. Again, this renewable energy far more expensive.

If we look at the price for coal energy averaging between 22 c/kWh from our existing big Eskom megawattage, you see that the renewable energy does come in at a price, but the world demanding it is something that we have to consider. When you take it in the big picture that it is a small percentage of the overall total, it will really mean that coal will be subsidising these new renewable energy initiatives.

Modise: Now, Mozambique after experiencing war for decades and now peaceful is beginning to realise its rich agricultural potential.

Creamer: The visit of a Chinese delegation to Africa last month was a reminder of the agricultural potential in Mozambique. The Chinese delegation did go to the Democratic Republic of Congo which is the prettiest girl on the mining block and looked at mining interests there, but they were soon to move to Mozambique, as well as to foster their agricultural interest.

Although we are in this postmeltdown phase of financial problems in the world, this is a reminder that food securities are going to be back on the radar before we know it. With Mozambique, there is potential there to do a lot of things.

If we just take the cashew nuts situation, the war knocked that back so badly, if that is a barometer you can see that the output is down since then. Also, the yield that they are getting from these cashew nuts is only one-third to one-quarter of what is being achieved in Vietnam and in India.

The potential is there and with a little bit of extra help it is felt that Mozambique can be turned around as an agricultural destination and we see our own South African sugar producers moving in. Illovo having just set-up a sugar plant there and also getting higher yields and is wanting to set up a second one.

The potential there, is now coming into the spotlight again, and it is time to look at food security now when things are down, rather than to have to be rushing around when the demand gets to steep. Mozambique is seen as a potential too realise its rich agricultural effort.

Modise: Thanks very much. Martin Creamer is publishing editor of Engineering News and Mining Weekly, he’ll be back with us at the same time next week.

Edited by: Creamer Media Reporter
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