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SAWEA urges industry members, stakeholders to support global net-zero push

26th October 2021

By: Schalk Burger

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

     

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Industry organisation the South African Wind Energy Association (SAWEA) urges key stakeholders, including governments, economies and communities, to put policies in place that will raise ambitions and remove barriers to the massive scale-up in investments in wind power to help reach global net-zero climate targets.

As a member and participant in the Global Wind Energy Council’s (GWEC's) COP26 Working Group, and working in collaboration with its global counterparts, SAWEA joins the GWEC in making this call ahead of COP26 taking place in Glasgow, Scotland, from October 31 to November 12.

SAWEA also reiterates its commitment to ensure South Africa’s wind industry aligns with global plans.

“The manifesto for COP26 calls for wind energy to be a lead contributor to global decarbonisation strategies. The manifesto also calls for a commitment to decommissioning schedules of coal-fired power stations.

"As a signatory to the manifesto, SAWEA has provided support to ensure local policy commitments around decommissioning are met in a way that is economically feasible for the local economy, as well as for the continued development of the wind sector to be prioritised.

“With the latest carbon dioxide emission targets released by the Presidential Climate Commission (PCC), we observe that there is increased commitment from the State to decarbonise and we acknowledge this commitment as symbolic to mitigating the global climate emergency. The reviewed targets commit South Africa to a 350-million- to 420-million-tonne reduction in carbon dioxide-equivalent (CO2-eq) emissions by 2030,” says SAWEA technical programmes officer Letlhogonolo Tsoai.

In the past ten years, wind energy has contributed to the 60.7-million-tonne CO2-eq reduction that has been realised through the use of renewables in South Africa, she adds.

“Our role is to safeguard industry’s alignment with the global agenda and to ensure the manifesto remains representative of our local ambitions, for which we will advocate the necessary policy shifts.

“With reference to South Africa’s first comprehensive legal framework for climate, namely the Climate Change Bill, and the global net-zero to 2050 target, SAWEA believes the deployment of wind and other renewable sources of energy will go a long way to enable the necessary decarbonisation,” Tsoai says.

Transitioning South Africa’s power system to net zero will require the deployment of about 150 GW of wind and solar capacity by 2050, which is almost four times the total capacity of South Africa’s coal power plants today. It represents an investment of about R3-trillion within the next 30 years, requiring significant expansion and upgrades to the transmission and distribution infrastructure,” says PCC executive director Crispian Olver.

“To reach net zero by 2050, South Africa will need to speed up deployment of renewable energy capacity, and 4 GW of renewables will need to be installed every year, which is roughly ten times the current pace of new-build,” he notes.

It is widely agreed that, in addition to accelerating the deployment of renewable power, repurposing retiring coal plants and supporting electric vehicle manufacturing and an export-oriented green hydrogen industry should all be included in the mitigating efforts.

“By 2050, a renewables-dominated power system will be the most cost-competitive system for South Africa,” Olver says.

Meanwhile, the Climate Change Bill is expected to be tabled in Parliament soon and is expected to provide for a coordinated and integrated response by the economy and society to climate change and its impacts.

The Bill also provides for effective management of climate change impacts, addresses that mitigation efforts should be based on the best available science, evidence and information, as well as gives effect to South Africa’s international commitments and obligations in relation to climate change, SAWEA says.

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online

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