SOUTH Africa has committed itself to help bring clean power to 100 million African households and to double its capacity of cross-border electricity across the continent and into Europe.
Speaking at the opening of the South African International Renewable Energy Conference yesterday, Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson said the country was committed to increasing its energy mix to include a significantly large portion of renewable energy sources. More than 3 000 delegates from the private, public and academic sector from 82 countries have gathered to discuss strategies to accelerate the use of renewable energy. The conference, held at the CTICC, ends tomorrow.
Various delegates agreed that South Africa could be a leader of the global transition to renewable energy.
“Today marks a day in which South Africa commits itself to assist the African continent to bring access to modern and sustainable energy services to at least an additional 100 million African households,” she said.
“South Africa pledges to commit to doubling the capacity of cross-border electricity interconnection, both within the continent and between Africa and Europe. We will double the use of natural gas in Africa as well as double African gas which is exported to the rest of the world.”
She added that through joint projects with the Democratic Republic of Congo, 10 000MW of new hydropowered facilities would be created before 2030.
“Ministerial determination will be made as a legacy project for this conference, of 1 500MW of additional solar energy for a solar park in the Northern Cape.”
Joemat-Pettersson said the number of people without electricity was increasing in sub-Saharan Africa and efforts to improve the situation were outpaced by population growth.
“We would like to use this as a platform to act against this worrying picture. The shortage of essential electricity infrastructure is undermining all our efforts to achieve more rapid economic development and social justice.”.
The department also planned to expand the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme, which had so far contributed 4 294GWh to the national grid, while total payments to IPPs stood at R9.2 billion. The initiative had also saved 4.4 million tons of carbon dioxide. South Africa had the capability to be a world leader in renewable technologies.
International Renewable Energy Agency director-general Adnan Amin said the decisions made by African governments during the conference would shape the continent’s energy use for decades to come.
“By working together to stimulate private investment we can encourage a future in which there are no barriers to increasing the share of renewables and the energy mix for any country on the continent.”
Africa held some of the best and most abundant renewable energy resources in the world in the form of biomass, geo-thermal, hydropower, solar and wind. He said the combination of renewable capacity could increase the share of modern renewables in the power sector to 50 percent by 2030.
“We have the chance to create an Africa where economic growth and increased prosperity comes in tandem with improved energy availability and security, and within a world that remains safe from the most devastating consequences of climate change. The renewable energy revolution is here and together we must ensure that no country in Africa is left behind,” Amin said.
Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21) chairperson Ar-thouros Zervos said when REN21 was founded in 2004, the future looked very different. “The diffusion and uptake of renewable energies globally has outstripped all our expectations.”
The expansion of renewable energy technologies had been driven by a changing global policy landscape that had drawn investment and created attractive markets, he added. In 2008, only 48 countries had supported policies or targets for renewable energy – that total had now tripled to 164
“No one imagined a decade ago that nearly 60 percent of newly added power capacity would be renewable-based, which is the case today. No one imagined that developing countries would attract nearly 50 percent of global annual renewable energy investment, totalling $270bn (R3.7 trillion) by the end of 2014.”
And for the first time in four decades, world growth recorded in 2014 did not show a parallel rise in CO2 emissions.
6 October 2015