Energy Minister Jeff Radebe has affirmed his commitment to renewable energy in South Africa, saying it will help to reduce pollution and create thousands of jobs.
He told delegates at the African Utility Week, in Cape Town, that he was pleased the long-awaited renewable energy power purchase agreements had been signed in April and that the R58-billion investment in 27 projects over the next three to five years could go ahead.
He made no mention of nuclear in his opening address to the event, which has drawn 7 000 international energy and water professionals.
“To date we have concluded 91 renewable energy projects with a capacity of 6 300 MW. Of these, 62 projects, with combined capacity of 3 800 MW, are already connected to the grid,” Radebe said.
He also told delegates that there had been a “significant decline” in tariffs of about 55% for wind and 76% for solar in South Africa.
Radebe said renewable energy had also proved to be effective during peak periods.
“Independent analysis shows that, on average, 15% of this energy was delivered during peak periods. This goes a long way in demystifying the contribution of energy into the grid during peak period”.
Radebe said about R136-billion had been invested in the South African economy through the renewable energy programme, with another R56-billion to be invested over the next three to five years. Thousands of jobs will also be created, mainly in the construction phase.
He said the Department of Energy (DoE) would apply the lessons learnt from the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme in other energy programmes.
“Using the lesson from this, we will continue to roll out programmes in areas such as gas.”
Radebe further said allocations among the various energy sources were being finalised.
“These allocations are under way as part of the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) review, which we are committed to finalising by mid-August.”
Radebe said the country faced challenges with the distribution network and that ageing network infrastructure compounded supply constraints and limited the ability to expand electricity access to everyone.
“The DoE has completed a study on the backlog and work is under way to determine the rehabilitation of networks and asset management going forward.”
He also encouraged South Africans to save energy in line with the government’s renewed focus on energy efficiency.
“We need to save as much energy as possible, starting with changing behaviour in our own homes.”
He said the DoE has worked closely with other key government departments to strengthen energy efficiency in a bid to reach its targets to reduce carbon emissions by 34% by 2020 and 42% by 2025 subject to availability of resources.
European Union (EU) Ambassador to South Africa Marcus Cornaro welcomed South Africa’s recommitment to the renewable energy programme. He said this would reinforce investor confidence in the sector.
He told delegates the EU was a firm supporter of water and energy projects in Africa and also firmly believed in localisation.
“Localisation has a legitimate and very strong place in the South African and African policy agenda.”