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Jul 23, 2010

6 000 MW of wind power ‘ready to be commissioned’ – Sawea

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The South African Wind Energy Association (Sawea) on Thursday said that information from wind energy project developers in South Africa showed that 6 000 MW of wind energy was "ready to be commissioned right now".

Developers were, however, waiting for the power purchase agreements (PPAs) under the renewable energy feed-in tariff (Refit), as they could not take a project to a bankable stage unless they had a power offtake agreement in place.

However, Standard Bank director of investment banking coverage for South Africa and Africa, Paul Eardley-Taylor said that a number of entities (such as industrial and mining companies) could be interested in signing PPAs with renewable power producers, outside of the Refit programme, if one considered increasing electricity price forecasts for 2015.

As South Africa awaited the draft of the integrated resource plan 2010, or IRP2010, which was initially expected by the end of June, interests promoting different forms of energy generation stated what they hoped to see from the document.

Representing Sawea, Mark Tanton purported that the country should aim to derive 25% of its total electricity generation mix from wind energy by 2025. That would amount to about 30 000 MW of installed wind capacity.

Tanton said that this figure would in turn mean the creation of an additional 40 000 jobs, 12 000 of which would be permanent jobs in rural areas.

He also noted that some 60% of the wind turbine could be manufactured locally, and would thus contribute significantly to industrial development.

Tanton emphasised that Sawea wanted the IRP2010 to be a "risk-adjusted" plan, which looked at the "true cost" of producing power from all the technologies proposed, and ensured a portfolio mix that was complementary, affordable and sustainable in the long-term.

And importantly, clarity and limited ambiguity were expected from the IRP2010.

Representing the Nuclear Industry Association of South Africa, Ayanda Myoli stated that South Africa had the opportunity to be a "big player" in the nuclear industry, and if a nuclear build programme of 20 000 MW was initiated, some 77 000 jobs could be created in the country. Of these jobs, some 50 000 would be permanent jobs, not only in operation and maintenance of nuclear power plants, but also in downstream supplier industries.

The country's nuclear policy was said to support the local beneficiation of uranium, for example.

Myoli also said that localisation, and development of high-end skills was high on the agenda.

Eskom representative Adele Greyling stressed that Eskom wanted the IRP2010 to address the issue of security of supply, as well as for the document to make provision for the entrance of independent power producers (IPPs) into the market, and to also ensure a more diverse energy mix.

She said that Eskom was ready, willing and able to facilitate the process of IPPs entering the market in South Africa, but emphasised that the process was not up to the utility alone.

Greyling added that Eskom felt that it would be practically possible for renewable energy to contribute 20% to the entire energy generation mix by 2030.

Independent industry commentator Chris Yelland said that it was of utmost importance that the drafting of the IRP2010 should follow due process.

Yelland was concerned that the IRP2010 was not being drawn up by independent consultants, which were free of vested interests, and was rather being driven by stakeholders - which were largely dominated by Eskom and the Energy Intensive Users Group, as they had the finances to be most involved with the process.

He highlighted that it would be difficult to accept the outcome if one did not accept the process.

IRP2010, spearheaded by the Department of Energy, would determine current and future energy requirements for South Africa for the next 20 years.

Energy Minister Dipuo Peters said previously that the country has reached a "delicate situation, which requires us to take bold and decisive decisions on whether to build coal-fired or nuclear power stations for baseload energy requirements".

 

Edited by: Mariaan Webb
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