Energy: SA hosts first major renewables conference
The eyes of the world are on SA as the country hosts the first International Renewable Energy conference on African soil, writes Legalbrief.
SA has rapidly become a world player in renewable energy, according to a new report from the Department of Energy (DOE). A report on the IoL site notes that as a result, SA is well on its way to achieving government’s goal of 30% clean energy by 2025, says the department. The DOE adds abundant sunshine and strong coastal wind, combined with sensible policy and government partnerships with business, have led to jobs, foreign investment and clean power which reduces load shedding. ‘We’re making intelligent use of our natural advantages,’ Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson said as she welcomed delegates to the South African International Renewable Energy Conference 2015 (SAIREC) in Cape Town. The conference kicked off on Monday and will run until tomorrow (Wednesday). ‘Renewables are delivering exactly what SA needs – from energy, jobs and technology to foreign investment, rural development, community benefits and working relations between government and business,’ notes Kevin Nassiep, CE of the SA National Energy Development Institute. ‘The scope and scale of renewable energy development in South Africa demonstrates what is possible when government and business share a commitment to success.’
SA’s energy mix will be shaped by inputs at SAIREC this week, Joemat-Pettersson said. A Cape Argus report notes that this was why the updated Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) had not been finalised before the conference. The report says the Minister would not be drawn on why the country was pursuing a nuclear-build programme when global costs for renewables were declining. However, states the report, her commitment to include inputs from the conference in the country’s energy master plan and the 2015/16 IRP – due early next year – leaves the door open for a greater role for renewables and a possible scaling down of SA’s nuclear ambitions. Joemat-Pettersson’s remarks suggest the updated IRP could look different to the 2010 version, allowing for a ‘big gas’ scenario and an expansion of renewables, according to the report. It says she asked delegates to come up with concrete proposals to mobilise capital and increase access to finance for renewables, assuring them their inputs would be heard and factored into the government’s thinking.
Solar energy received a boost yesterday, when Joemat-Pettersson announced a new power procurement project in the Northern Cape to deliver 1 500MW of solar energy. A TimesLIVE report notes that the additional procurement was a Department of Energy legacy project to mark SAIREC. ‘It is a ministerial legacy project to ensure we remember this conference,’ the Minister is quoted as saying after her opening address on Monday. The announcement is the first step in a process that will seek bids from independent power producers (IPPs) and will likely only feed into the grid between 2019 and 2020. Joemat-Pettersson said the IPP office mandate will end this month and will be reshaped to grow its level of influence in SA and on the continent. ‘The IPP office is a success story that we would like to duplicate in other countries,’ she said, according to the report. ‘The reshaping of the office has started in earnest and will have a larger mandate.’
Joemat-Pettersson announced the 10 preferred bidders in the small projects renewable energy independent power producers’ programme at SAIREC. ABDlive report notes that the programme is targeted at independent power producers who can roll out projects with the capacity to deliver between one and five megawatts. ‘We have also been aware of creating opportunities for small and medium-sized entrepreneurs in our renewable energy programme,’ the Minister is quoted in the report as saying. ‘The intention is to assist small developers to gain assistance in project development, as well as in raising the necessary funding projects of this nature.’ The announcement comes after Joemat-Pettersson announced 13 preferred bidders in the programme’s June window bid. The 13 projects are slated to supply an additional 1 084MW to the national grid.
The theme for this year’s conference is RE-energising Africa, with topics to include energy interconnectivity on the African continent, transport and eco-mobility, technological innovations and energy-smart cities, among others. ACape Argus report notes that Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe was quoted last week as saying that in future, biomass, wind power, solar power and hydro power would contribute 11.4GW of renewable energy to the grid. Minister of Trade and Industry Rob Davies said the Solar Energy Programme (SEP) would deliver a quarter of the country’s renewable energy by 2030. ‘We need to appreciate the size and extent of the SEP that we have. By far, SA has the biggest renewable energy programme in Africa and one of the biggest in the world,’ Davies said in the Northern Cape last week.
Africa could generate nearly a quarter of its energy needs through the use of indigenous, clean, renewable energy by 2030, according to a new report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena). A TimesLIVEreport notes that the report finds that a combination of modern renewable technology could realistically meet 22% of Africa’s energy needs by 2030, a more than a fourfold increase from just 5% in 2013. ‘Africa holds some of the best renewable energy resources in the world in the form of biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar and wind,’ the report notes Irena director-general Adnan Z Amin said at the conference. ‘This, combined with the precipitous drop in renewable energy technology costs, creates a massive opportunity for African countries to both transform and expand their energy systems while providing a pathway for low carbon economic growth.’
Shifting to gas as a new source of energy: Joemat-Pettersson told an oil and gas conference in Cape Town last week that the revised Integrated Resource Plan, expected to be completed by early next year, was likely to feature a much bigger role for gas than previous versions. A report in The Mercury notes that Joemat-Pettersson said she was constantly asked why she was delaying the release of the government’s Gas Utilisation Master Plan and about the 2013 Integrated Resource Plan – which projected a bigger potential role for gas in the energy mix and urged caution on nuclear procurement in a strategy of ‘least regret’. She said the gas master plan had been limited in scope and had not taken account of all the government’s objectives. The 2015/16 integrated plan would also look at gas ‘in more detail’. She said a key objective was to minimise the impact of the gas procurement programme on the national balance sheet, and the same applied to nuclear energy, the report states.