Concentrating solar power (CSP) could play an important role in South Africa’s future energy generation capacity, by offering a utility-scale, carbon-free generation solution, BrightSource Energy business development consultant Daniel Schwab said on Wednesday.
At the second yearly Solar South Africa conference, held in Johannesburg, he said South Africa required between 40 GW and 60 GW of additional installed capacity over the next 20 to 30 years and that CSP was a large-scale, dispatchable solution that would enable efficient supply to meet demand.
CSP also held cost benefits at larger scale. Schwab indicated that if plants were built in blocks of 500 MW to 1 GW, grid parity could be achieved.
The Integrated Resource Plan of 2010 has set a target of 1 000 MW for CSP by 2030. However, this was low compared with other renewable energy generation technologies such as solar photovoltaic and wind that would each deliver 8 400 MW of new capacity by 2030.
“We are seeking direction for government in terms of their long-term vision for CSP. If they are committed to developing the technology in South Africa as a significant part of our future energy mix, investments and technology will be transferred to the country,” Schwab indicated.
To support a large-scale build-up of CSP, local manufacturing capacity would have to be built, which augured well for job creation and would give South Africa entry into the global CSP market.
“CSP can offer an ideal scenario of low-cost, but high-quality generation capacity that is environment friendly,” Schwab noted.
He added that an enabling policy environment would be central to the future of CSP in South Africa.
“Policy drives the adoption of technologies and it requires a good dialogue. We have started the discussion with the Department of Energy, among others, and we are optimistic about what this might deliver in the coming months,” Schwab said.