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SADC becoming key player in renewable energy

Oct 05 2015 17:14
Matthew le Cordeur

Department of Energy acting director general Dr Wolsey Barnard has a light moment with Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson at the SA International Renewable Energy Conference in Cape Town. (Matthew le Cordeur)

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Cape Town – The Southern African Development Community (SADC) will increase its electricity generation investment to between R1.5trn and R3trn between 2012 and 2027, raising transmission investment costs by R7.35bn.

“The SADC is now becoming a key player in the international trend towards the development of renewable energy resources as well as energy efficiency,” according to a report by the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (Ren21) on the status of the region, giving the above figures.

“More than 6 000 MW of new trans-border connections are anticipated to be completed in 2014/15 alone,” according to the report, released on Monday at the start of the SA International Renewable Energy Conference in Cape Town.

It said renewable energy in the SADC power sector is increasing rapidly, accounting for about 23.5% of generation.

The report found current potential hydro resources in the SADC account for 41 000 MW, while solar power could produce 20 000 terawatt hours (TWh) per year – although currently less than 1% of this is installed.

The International Renewable Energy Agency said the SADC has estimated wind energy potential for the community to be about 800 TWh.

“As with solar, South Africa has led the way in wind development through its tender process,” the report explained.

The potential for biomass-generated electricity is estimated at 9 500 MW, based on agricultural waste alone, said the report.

The renewable energy sector is attracting much investment and is closing the gap on fossil fuels, it said.

“Discounting projects already financed, such as through South Africa’s REIPPPP (renewable energy IPP procurement programme), there remains some 27 000 MW of renewable electricity generation projects in the regional pipeline, of which 24 000 MW is large-scale hydro projects.”

“Renewables are uniquely positioned to provide needed energy services in a sustainable manner, more rapidly and generally at lower cost than fossil fuels,” said Ren21 executive secretary Christine Lins.

“Renewable energy technologies are viewed not simply as tools for improving energy security and mitigating and adapting to climate change,” said Lins.

“They are recognised increasingly as investments that provide both direct and indirect economic advantages by reducing dependence on imported fuels, improving local air quality and safety, advancing energy access and security, propelling economic development and creating jobs.”

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