BIL­LIONS IN­VESTED IN RE­NEW­ABLE EN­ERGY TO AD­DRESS SA POWER DEFICIT

African Times - - Business - SAVIOUS KWINIKA

GOV­ERN­MENT and the pri­vate sec­tor are in­vest­ing bil­lions of rands as South Africa makes the most of its abun­dance in re­new­able sources of en­ergy and ul­ti­mately ad­dress er­ratic power sup­plies

that are partly to blame for pre­vail­ing eco­nomic chal­lenges.

The coun­try has vast clean en­ergy sources as sun­light, wind, biomass and geo­ther­mal heat but a lack of in­vest­ment over the years has seen the coun­try fail to ex­ploit these.

Things are an­tic­i­pated to change fol­low­ing a multi­bil­lion-rand in­vest­ment by the In­dus­trial Devel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion (IDC) and Pub­lic In­vest­ment Cor­po­ra­tion (PIC) 100 megawatt (MW) so­lar plant in Po­fad­der, some 230km west of Uping­ton, North­ern Cape Prov­ince.

The fa­cil­ity, said to be­come the African con­ti­nent’s largest re­new­able source of en­ergy, ahead of so­lar pho­to­voltaic project in Jasper, also in

the North­ern Cape, feeds di­rectly into Eskom’s na­tional power grid. The plant in Po­fad­der is one of more than 20 projects na­tion­wide, worth

R14 bil­lion, with the fi­nanc­ing set to re­sult in cre­at­ing thou­sands of the much needed job op­por­tu­ni­ties and en­sur­ing sur­plus elec­tric­ity sup­plies.

Such projects con­trib­ute to South Africa´s goals of achiev­ing up to 17,800 MW of re­new­able en­ergy by 2030, and re­duc­ing de­pen­dence on oil and nat­u­ral

gas. Lizeka Mat­sheka, IDC Di­vi­sional Ex­ec­u­tive for Agro, In­fra­struc­ture and New

In­dus­try, said South Africa re­quired re­li­able sources of en­ergy to at­tract more in­vest­ment and cre­ate much­needed jobs.

“There is no econ­omy that can pros­per with­out elec­tric­ity. We can’t af­ford to ra­tion en­ergy in­dus­tri­ally and res­i­den­tially,” Mat­sheka told CAJ News Africa in Po­fad­der.

She said the elec­tric­ity load shed­ding that peaked in 2014 high­lighted the con­se­quences of fail­ure to in­vest in re­new­able en­ergy.“IDC fa­cil­i­tates cre­ation of jobs through projects such as this one (re­new­able en­ergy in­vest­ment),” Mat­sheka said of the lat­est fa­cil­ity. Jeff Radebe, the en­ergy min­is­ter, who of­fi­cially com­mis­sioned the power plant, said the coun­try, through its 2030 vi­sion, planned to in­vest $10,8 bil­lion (about R130 bil­lion) in re­new­able en­ergy, a devel­op­ment that would drive the spi­ral­ing costs of elec­tric­ity down.

He said the gov­ern­ment, in part­ner­ship with pri­vate com­pa­nies such as Aben­goa So­lar would en­sure Eskom ad­e­quately sup­plied the na­tion with­out con­cerns of load shed­ding.

“Lack of en­ergy con­trib­uted to low growth of South African econ­omy. Past en­ergy short­falls taught us to in­crease power gen­er­a­tion. South Africa is

rich in re­new­able en­ergy,” Radebe said.

He added re­new­able en­ergy had the added ad­van­tage of re­duc­ing car­bon emis­sions.

Do­minic Jose Gon­calves, Vice Pres­i­dent for Busi­ness Devel­op­ment at Aben­goa, which in­stalled the 300 hectare so­lar ther­mal plant, said some 95 000 house­holds were now ben­e­fit­ting from so­lar en­ergy.

Gon­calves said 1 300 jobs had been cre­ated. Lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties are also set to ben­e­fit through the trans­fer of skills.

Aben­goa So­lar built the plant and car­ries out its op­er­a­tion and

main­te­nance. IDC, South Africa´s largest devel­op­ment fi­nance in­sti­tu­tion, holds 29 per­cent. The lo­cal KaXu Com­mu­nity Trust holds 20 per­cent.

Sylvia Lu­cas, the North­ern Cape Pre­mier, hailed the Po­fad­der project as a “game changer” in elec­tric­ity gen­er­a­tion.She how­ever be­moaned the poor state of roads in the prov­ince as a draw­back to eco­nomic growth.

“This chal­lenge is lim­it­ing eco­nomic growth,” Lu­cas said.

All pho­tos by Savious Kwinika, CAJ News

So­lar en­ergy stor­age plant

Lizeka Mat­shekga, IDC Di­vi­sional Ex­ec­u­tive for Agro, In­fra­struc­ture

Do­minic Jose Gon­calves, Vice Pres­i­dent for Busi­ness Devel­op­ment at Aben­goa.

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