South Africa - In a speech read on his behalf at the recently concluded Windaba conference and exhibition event in Cape Town, South Africa energy minister Jeff Radebe invited potential investors in wind energy to consider the country.
“Based on increasing performance in the Wind and Solar Energy sectors, I continue to invite investors to consider South Africa as an investment destination with huge potential to grow in a politically stable environment,” the minister said in the speech delivered on his behalf by Department of Energy (DoE) director-general Thabane Zulu.
“We boast about the success of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producers Procurement Programme (REIPPPP) in bringing in an investment of almost R193 billion (or $20,5 billion) from 92 selected projects and the procurement of 6328 MW between 2011 and 2015,” Radebe added.
The minister also pointed out that with South Africa’s recently held Investment Summit the country is on track to surpass the target of US$100 billion in overall investments that the President has set. Of this target, US$25 billion could come from the energy sector.
Detailing steps that South Africa has taken to facilitate investment in the wind sector Minister Radebe noted that it would be difficult to plan thoroughly if one does not have certainty on resource availability.
One of the key steps South Africa has taken to promote investment in wind power generation was to improve the wind energy resource mapping of South Africa, through the South African Wind Energy Programme (SAWEP) with the support of local and international institutions and organisations. SAWEP has resulted in the completion of a wind atlas for South Africa through the erection of 18 (eighteen) wind measurements masts across the country.
“This infrastructure investment will form part of a long term, uninterrupted and quality assured Wind Data bank for South Africa. SA’s wind resource data is freely accessible to the public, universities and other research institutions. It was worth investing in this infrastructure consisting of 18 masts across the provinces, as well as maintaining them to enable efficient and effective resource assessment and planning. As a result, South Africa is currently actively contributing towards the Global Renewable Energy Atlas led by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA),” explained Radebe.
The minister also called for an intensification of efforts in building a local manufacturing base through localisation programmes and went on to point out that the power sector has a huge potential to contribute its share to address high levels of unemployment in South Africa.
“In partnership with business, we can introduce youth in the work environment through internships, apprenticeships, mentorship and entrepreneurship. I therefore call upon you to also open up to these initiatives to make a change. Time for action is now to fundamentally improve the position of youth, women, people with disabilities and local communities where we do our business, to bring them into the value chain as owners, managers, producers and service providers,” said the minister.
Minister Radebe also noted that South Africa holds many unexploited opportunities in offshore wind and solar energy which are currently not being exploited as they ought to. He further noted industry estimates that offshore wind energy capacity could reach 520 GW in 2050, from a base of 20 GW in 2018.
With the publication of South Africa’s Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), 2018 receiving public and industry players’ comments minister Radebe stated that his government uses platforms such as the one created by Windaba as support mechanisms for engaging on policy discourse.
“Globally, it has been proven that a conducive policy environment has the greatest impact on the growth of the renewable energy sector. It is without doubt that we have to adopt enabling polices and regulatory frameworks to catalyse investment and to attract investors,” he explained. “We have committed to ensure thorough consultation on the IRP because we recognize that effective power planning systems require stakeholder engagement in order to align with broader public policy goals.”
The minister expressed confidence in this consultative approach saying it will assist to establish certainty in the power sector policy direction; to expand affordable electricity services to more customers; to promote more reliable services; to address environmental concerns and in particular to reduce air pollution and to reduce water stress.
Reiterating South Africa’s commitment to the Paris agreement, minister Radebe explained that the ambition for decarbonisation and zero greenhouse gas emission after 2050 entails a far-reaching commitment across economic sectors and activities and in the energy sector, it implies a switch to the highest possible penetration of renewable energy and other cleaner technology measures as soon as possible.
“Through the energy sector we are uniquely positioned to drive South Africa’s transition to a low-carbon economy. The goal of integrating and increasing the share of renewable energy and other cleaner sources in the energy mix requires development of appropriate regulatory framework to attract investors and mobilisation of financial resources to support contributions from the fiscus,” Radebe said.