Cape Town – Renewable energy could be a game-changer in Africa and become a main player in the continent’s future energy production, according to a member of the German delegation to the SA International Renewable Energy Conference (SAIREC) which begins in the city on Sunday.
Falk Bömeke, economic counsellor in the German Embassy, said on Friday that the price of renewable energy had come down to a level which made it competitive with coal.
“This makes it an attractive option, and it could be a game-changer in Africa. There is also a lot of sun and wind in most parts of Africa, so it might become the future energy production,” Bömeke said.
The other attraction of renewables was that power plants could be small and localised, designed to power a town or a city.
“You don’t need a complete national grid to distribute the energy. Some countries don’t have a national grid. You could put up a solar park or wind farm near a city to produce power for that city. This is more feasible way for many countries. Obviously renewables can’t be the only energy production, but it can provide much of the energy needs.”
Bömeke said the sector had taken off in South Africa, with 6000MW of renewable energy allocated by government in the first four rounds of the public process. In terms of the process, the private sector builds the renewable energy power plants at its own cost and sells the electricity produced to Eskom.
German ambassador Walter Lindner believes Africa could become a leader in the global leader in the transition to a low carbon energy system.
“Given Africa’s dynamic development and its wealth in renewable energy sources, it can be a leader in global energy transition. This conference is a significant opportunity to engage in international discourse, exchange best practices and offer support to each other in energy transformation,” Lindner said.
The international renewable energy conference was started in Germany and the first one held in Bonn in 2004, followed by conference in Washington DC in 2005, Delhi in 2010 and Abu Dhabi in 2013.
Germany has made renewable energy the main pillar to replace nuclear energy, which the country will phase out by 2022. In 2014 renewables supplied 28 percent of Germany’s power. The country plans to increase the supply of renewable energy to 50 percent in the future, and depending on how the evolution of storage technology evolves, possibly up to 80 percent.
This year’s conference at the sets out out to show why Africa is the “preferred business destination” for the renewable energy sector.
The German government had donated €2 million (about R30 million) for the sponsorship of SAIREC 2015.
October 2 2015
By Melanie Gosling