- WWF South Africa, 29 July 2016Read more
WWF South Africa welcomes the Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan’s stance on energy policy after he reaffirmed government’s commitment to keeping renewable energy in the mix through its renewable energy independent power producers procurement (REIPP) programme. This comes as players in the energy sector have expressed concern over an apparent backtrack by Eskom on the procurement of power from IPPs on cost grounds, with potentially devastating consequences for the country’s renewable energy programme.
Responding to questions in Port Elizabeth, Mr Gordhan told reporters (Business Day, 28 July 2016) that the REIPP programme was still “key state policy” and it was not for Eskom to make policy statements to the contrary.
Saliem Fakir, head of WWF-SA’s Policy and Futures Unit, said “We echo the minister’s caution not to make hasty decisions on South Africa’s energy mix and the grid’s ability to supply the economy, based on short-term economic growth forecasts. Eskom's arguments for not building more renewables because of improved availability of energy supply – for one year – does not take into account future demand, nor the fact that availability factors can decrease in the future. Eskom relies on old plants that have increased shut-down periods as these plants near the end of lives.
Fakir said the argument that the growth in liability cancelled out a non-base load option because there was no economic storage system, was inherently weak. “All new power is affordable if growth in power is aligned with growth in the economy. Treasury manages state guarantees and contingent liabilities and therefore the onus lies with them to determine what that threshold should be.”
Eskom should also be comparing today's renewables with new coal plants, which were three times more expensive, rather than old plants which are due to be decommissioned by 2030.
This aside, Eskom’s complaints that renewables were too costly was contrary to the evidence of the IPP bidding process which showed that costs had come down with each new bid, said Fakir.
“Eskom's argument for nuclear is wholly optimistic given that it cannot build cost-effective new coal plants. It is unlikely to do so with more complex nuclear power plants which have higher safety requirements if it cannot prove itself prudent with coal. Nuclear power may turn out to be an expensive and regrettable choice and Eskom should be and take advantage of more renewables while the costs are coming down,” said Fakir.
“The public needs greater transparency around the costs of all forms of power generation – coal, nuclear or renewables – because it is unclear whether the benefits of cheaper electricity will be passed on to consumers,” he said.
- Cennergi, 29 July 2016Read more
Cennergi (Pty) Ltd, the South African based 50:50 joint venture between Exxaro Resources and Tata Power, achieved Commercial Operations for its 134 MW Amakhala Emoyeni Wind Farm Project this week. Cennergi was selected as the "Preferred Bidder" for two wind projects under the second window of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP) by the South African government. The company’s second wind project is also expected to go into commercial operations shortly.
Speaking on achieving this milestone for the wind farm located near the small town of Bedford in South Africa's Eastern Cape, Thomas Garner, CEO of Cennergi, said that “the commissioning of Amakhala Emoyeni Wind farm, Cennergi’s first operational asset is a culmination of many years of hard and dedicated work from the Cennergi team in partnership with its stakeholders. It marks the company’s start in growing its vision to be a leader in cleaner energy in Africa, thereby creating value for its stakeholders."
Exxaro’s, CEO, Mxolisi Mgojo said, “The commissioning of the Amkhala Emoyeni Wind Farm fulfils Exxaro’s vision of extending its position in the energy value chain beyond coal. In addition, it is a tangible commitment to our environmental stewardship to reduce the impacts of carbon emissions in the medium to long term, whilst addressing the country’s short term electricity needs in the short term.”
"Cennergi, and Amakhala Emoyeni Wind Farm stay committed to our values of partnering with land owners, communities, local government and all other stakeholders to ensure empowerment of the local communities and especially historically disadvantaged people." added Garner.
- Noupoort Wind Farm, 14 July 2016Read more
Noupoort Wind Farm has achieved its Commercial Operations Date (COD) on schedule and on budget, making it the first wind farm to successfully achieve operation as part of the third round of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP). All 35 turbines of this ZAR1.9billion, 80MW wind farm, have been commissioned and connected to the Eskom grid, with the project satisfying all of Eskom’s requirements on 11 July 2016. “We are thrilled to have reached this milestone on target and to have met all Eskom’s requirements including Grid Code Compliance, thereby achieving COD just 17 months after construction commenced,” said Savva Antoniadis, Country Programme Manager for Noupoort Wind Farm.
South Africa’s relatively new wind energy sector is already supplying enough electrical energy to power more than half a million households from 15 large wind farms generating over 3 GW of wind energy. In addition to the enormous water savings, significant in the country’s current state of drought, REIPPPP ensures that renewable energy projects benefit nearby communities. So far in excess of ZAR90 billion has been committed to developmental initiatives under this programme. “We are currently implementing various economic development projects, which include Capacity Building for existing and prospective entrepreneurs; and local maths and science development programmes that incorporate science and computer labs as well as local Wi-Fi infrastructure,” explained Antoniadis.
The team at Noupoort Wind Farm has been working closely with the various Eskom teams to achieve this milestone, but value the positive community relationships equally as much. “Our Project has received resounding support from the local municipality and the surrounding communities who supported us throughout the construction phase, for this we most grateful and look forward to a long and mutually beneficially relationship,” added Antoniadis.
Situated in the Umsobomvu Municipal Area located 10km east of Noupoort in the Northern Cape, Noupoort Wind Farm spans 7500 hectares and comprises thirty five 99m-high wind turbines. The site was chosen because of its excellent wind resource, its proximity to national roads for wind turbine transportation, the favourable construction conditions, municipality and local stakeholder support, the straightforward electrical connection into the Eskom grid, and studies showed that there would be little environmental impact.
When operating at full capacity, the 80MW Noupoort Wind Farm will generate around 304 800MWh of clean renewable energy per year; this is expected to supply electricity to power up to 69 000 South African homes. Noupoort Wind Farm will effectively eliminate approximately 300 000 tonnes of carbon emissions each year when compared to traditional fossil fuel power plants. In addition to zero carbon emissions and reduced use of fossil fuels, the country will benefit from minimal water consumption during the generation process and significant social and enterprise development programmes.
- Construction of the wind turbine generator foundations started in May 2015
- All 35 turbine foundations were completed 20 November 2015
- First turbine lifting completed in December 2015
- All 35 wind turbines erected by 30 March 2016
- Energized the substation on 12 February 2016
- Energised the first turbines on 23 February 2016
- COD achieved on 11 July 2016
- Sonnedix & juwi RE with edits, 07 April 2016Read more
The Mulilo-Sonnedix-Prieska PV project, a 125 hectare solar PV project valued at R1.3 billion and situated 50km south-west of Prieska in the Northern Cape, is nearing completion on schedule and within budget. The 86MW project, which covers an area equal to 125 football or rugby fields, will produce enough power to supply 86 000 average South African homes.
According to Farid Moucer, Sonnedix country manager, “the project will connect to the grid later this year and has an expected 20 year lifespan, which we will operate with a local team.”
juwi Renewable Energies (Pty) Ltd, the South African subsidiary of the international juwi group, is building the Mulilo Sonnedix Prieska PV solar park in the Northern Cape Province for Independent Power Producer (IPP) Sonnedix. When complete, the 125 hectares site (approximately 2km by 1km) will comprise 275 000 PV modules, connected by 990km of cable.
“As the EPC we do the design and the engineering - we procure all of the materials and services, every single thing down to the last nut and bolt, and we put it all together on site. So we have integrated a lot of services and a lot of functionality to deliver a project that performs at a guaranteed level for the investor,” said Greg Austin, MD of juwi.
The RE industry has made a considerable impact on the Northern Cape region in terms of job creation and opportunities for South African suppliers.
“For us it is important to use as many South African suppliers as possible. Most of our large equipment, solar modules, the mounting structures, the invertor station, is all procured through a local South African entity. Some of the components are imported as they are not manufactured in South Africa, but our full supply base is South African for this project,” said Austin.
According to Moucer, 850 jobs have been created on the Prieska project, with over 500 of them involving people from the surrounding communities.
- Noupoort Wind Farm with edits, 07 April 2016Read more
According to Noupoort Wind Farm, all of the project’s thirty five turbines are now installed as the project looks towards its planned Commercial Operations Date in July this year. Turbine installation crew, BMS and Fairwind, began the erection of the turbines in December last year. With foundation bolts in place and the concrete foundation cured, a turbine takes a day to erect under favourable weather conditions.
The ZAR1.9 billion project is the first wind farm from round three of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement (REIPPP) programme to energize and is expected to be the first to complete construction in the Northern Cape.
Project milestones include:
- Construction of the wind turbine generator foundations started in May 2015.
- All 35 turbine foundations were completed, before schedule, on 20 November 2015.
- Transportation of the various components commenced on 19 October 2015.
- All 315 abnormal loads successfully made their way to the wind farm by 17th April 2016.
- Energized the substation on 12th February 2016
- Energised and the first turbines on 23rd February 2016.
- All 35 wind turbines erected by 30th March 2016.
- Abengoa, 30 March 2016Read more
Abengoa, together with the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) and Khi Community Trust, has successfully completed 24 consecutive hours of commercial solar thermal power plant operation, solely powered by solar energy, in its Khi Solar One plant near Upington.
According to Abengoa, the 50 MW, steam-driven solar thermal plant which recently began commercial operation in early February 2016, supplies enough clean energy to power around 45 000 South African households.
The plant accumulates steam at high temperatures and pressure, and allows for the generation of electricity after sunset for two hours at full capacity. However, the plant can operate for much longer into the night when not producing at full capacity, and the recent production of electricity for 24 hours using only the steam generated through solar energy is a milestone in innovation for Abengoa.
The commercial operation of Khi Solar One is the result of significant research and development by Abengoa into solar thermal tower plants at the Solucar solar complex in Spain. Experience gained from the operation of the pilot plant allowed for the optimisation of technology and served as a reference for project financing in South Africa. This has culminated in the launch of a plant with increased efficiency, performance and production in terms of cost compared to previous tower-type plants.
This project also offers numerous environmental and socioeconomic benefits. It avoids the production of 183 000 tonnes of CO2 per year and provides clean power to the South African grid. As part of the South Africa’s REIPPP programme, the plant has also promoted local economic development with the participation of a large number of local businesses. Similarly, the plant's 20% ownership by the Khi Community Trust will ensure the continuity of investment in the community.
Along with this plant, Abengoa, IDC, PIC and KaXu Community Trust are currently in the process of building another 100 MW parabolic trough plant, Xina Solar One, near Pofadder in the Northern Cape. This plant will employ a storage system that will allow the plant to operate for five hours without the sun. These projects demonstrate the commitment by Abengoa, IDC, PIC, Khi and Kaxu Community Trusts to the development of renewable energy in South Africa as part of the government strategy to bring 17 800 MW of renewable energy by 2030.
- Phelan Energy Group, 18 March 2016Read more
South African Energy Minister, Ms Tina Joemat-Pettersson, inaugurated the 175MW Solar Capital facility located in De Aar in the Northern Cape, making it the largest solar farm completed to date in the Southern Hemisphere, Africa and the Middle East region.
The launch of the facility is the culmination of a two-phase project. The first phase has a capacity of 85MW and the second phase an even larger capacity of 90MW. In total the facility is 473ha, consists of 503 942 modules and took a mere 28 months to construct.
According to Joematt-Pettersson, sub-Saharan Africa has seen tremendous economic growth and its energy consumption has risen by 45% since 2000. “Many governments are now intensifying their efforts to tackle the numerous regulatory and political barriers that are holding back investment in domestic energy supply, and inadequate energy infrastructure puts a brake on urgently needed improvements in living standards.”
The Department of Energy (DoE) has worked hard to solve the energy shortage in South Africa through its Renewable Energy Independent Power Producers Procurement (REIPPP) Programme. This programme allows for foreign investment in renewable energy farms, and has enabled the establishment of various renewable energy facilities which assist in providing the grid with electricity, such as Solar Capital De Aar’s 175MW farm.
Paschal Phelan, Chairman of Solar Capital, says that the launch of the facility is an important example of how solar power can assist in solving the current energy crisis in South Africa. “The Northern Cape of South Africa has some of the highest irradiation levels in the world, with the location of this facility boasting 2168kWh/m². This allows the abundant sunlight in the region to be converted into green energy to be transferred to the national energy grid.”
Phelan explains that South Africa as a whole will benefit from the facility, as all power generated from the project will be exported into the national electricity grid. “The electricity produced will be able to power approximately 75 000 South African homes every year.”
He adds that, with the introduction of lithium batteries in the near future, power will not only be transferred during the day, but can also be provided at night when it is most needed.
Solar Capital has also invested in long-term economic development in and around De Aar. Phelan points out that the De Aar project has had positive economic effects in the local area. The facility employed over 2,000 local people at peak and currently employs approximately 100 people for operations and maintenance.
He says that by the end of 2016 more than R24 million will be spent on economic development in projects such as as a community leaders development programme, free Wi-Fi for the town of De Aar, a large community training centre that houses a computer training laboratory and an arts training and exhibition centre.
“The launch of the solar farm is not only a success in its own right, but also allows for the opportunity to spread the message of solar success. It has no mechanical parts, ithasminimal operation costs, no emissions, no water usage and it is safe. It needs to be a priority in South Africa that we continue the investment in this source of abundantly free, green, sustainable energy,” concludes Phelan.
- ACWA Power, 18 March 2016Read more
Trade Ministers from South Africa and Saudi Arabia jointly inaugurated the Bokpoort Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) Project, which has been developed by a consortium led by ACWA Power in the Northern Cape Province of South Africa, marking the official launch of the R5 billion project.
South Africa’s Trade and Industry Minister, Mr. Rob Davies and Dr. Tawfig Fawzan Alrabiah, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Commerce & Trade officiated at the ceremony, at the site, which will provide enough power to supply more than 200,000 homes.
The project was developed as part of the South African government’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement (REIPPP) programme, and will contribute significantly to the government initiative to augment much needed power capacity, attract foreign direct investment, and create jobs while also stimulating the country’s economy. The tariff offered by ACWA Power at the second procurement window was 12% lower than the cap set by government for CSP technology in that round.
“The formal inauguration of the Bokpoort CSP plant is a significant milestone in supplying South Africa with reliable and cost competitive renewable electricity,” said ACWA Power Chairman, Mohammad Abunayyan. “The success of the project demonstrates a robust partnership between the Government of South Africa, through the Department of Energy, and ACWA Power.”
“We see this as the start of an enduring partnership with South Africa to augment the foundation for economic growth and social development” he added.
Equipped with more than nine hours of thermal storage capacity, the Bokpoort CSP plant operates like a giant rechargeable battery. This unique utility scale storage system allows this power plant to feed over 200 000 South African households with electricity during the day and night. Bokpoort CSP is utilising the only reliable renewable technology available to South Africa today at a commercial scale to cover the country’s daily evening peak demand from 5pm to 9pm which is crucial for increasing sustainable supply for Eskom, the South African public electricity utility .
Chris Ehlers, the company’s managing director for the Southern Africa region said: “We are here to serve the nation and to contribute to its development. Our commitment to the development of South African economy beyond reliably supplying renewable energy at a cost competitive tariff is demonstrated by the R2 billion worth of locally sourced components made in South Africa that has been used in the construction of this plant and the creation of 1,300 construction jobs.”
“Furthermore, In addition to sharing 5% of the ownership of this business venture with the local community via a community trust and 5% ownership with the national non-profit organisation, LoveLife, we have also committed R5 million to date in providing education and training for people from the local community and in improving social infrastructure in the area. ” he said.
ACWA Power, headquartered in Saudi Arabia is a developer, investor, co-owner and operator of a portfolio of power generation and desalinated water production plants with presence in 12 countries, with an investment value in excess of USD 32 billion, which can generate 22.8 GW of power and produce 2.5 million m3 /day of desalinated water.
The project has been highly recognised throughout the industry, recently being awarded the title of African Community Project of the Year at the African Utility Week Industry Awards as well as Project Finance ‘Deal of the Year’ by PFI, and World Finance’s Solar Deal of the Year.
Bokpoort CSP plant is the first in a series of investments in the power sector that ACWA Power is making in South Africa. The company is expecting to commence construction on the 100 MW Redstone CSP Project, also in Northern Cape, and is awaiting the outcome of tender submissions for a 300 MW coal-fired plant in Mpumalanga and another 150 MW CSP plant also at Northern Cape.
- Lucy Baker & Jesse Burton, 15 March 2016Read more
South Africa has made domestic and international commitments to climate change mitigation. But the country continues to depend on coal-fired power plants, which provide 92% of its electricity. A key challenge for the country in dealing with electricity shortages is that the bulk of power comes from coal, which is harmful for the environment and local communities.
The electricity sector is responsible for almost half of South Africa’s carbon emissions. As discussed in our recent report, it will be difficult to overcome the important contribution that coal makes to the electricity sector and the economy.
Decarbonisation in the electricity sector cannot be achieved without reducing the absolute contribution of coal-fired power. This can be achieved by introducing a range of low-carbon energy options. These include wind, solar photovoltaics and concentrated solar power, in addition to rapidly developing technologies for energy storage. Demand-side measurement and energy efficiency could also play a key role. All these measures and interventions offer significant potential.
But moving away from coal is proving difficult.
The reasons for South Africa’s electricity crisis are long-term and complex. They include a severe backlog in maintenance of its plants and delays in the construction of new power plants. This poses several opportunities and challenges.
The opportunities it presents include increasing the contribution of renewable energy to the national power supply. But can renewable energy compete with existing coal-fired power and a potential nuclear fleet? And can renewable energy be implemented in a way that prioritises socio-economic well-being and transparent and democratic policy processes? In other words, will the country’s moves towards a lower-carbon economy incorporate a “just transition”?
Among the challenges is the fact that South Africa’s electricity crisis is compounded by a lack of transparency in decision-making and political power struggles. For example, there are long-standing tensions within the ruling party and the tripartite alliance made up of the African National Congress, the trade union congress and the South African Communist Party. These tensions can be found in the ideologically driven disagreement between those who want a liberalised electricity market and those who want the government to hold onto the crisis-ridden, state-owned utility, Eskom.
In addition, recent steps toward transparent and democratic energy planning and policies have been undermined. For example, the latest revision of the Integrated Resource Plan for electricity has been put on ice.
The electricity master plan was launched in 2011 following a prolonged and intense stakeholder engagement process. It covers the country’s total demand requirements from 2010 to 2030.
According to the plan, an electricity project must align with the technological allocations set by the country’s electricity plan to be granted a license. The plan includes:
a cap on CO2 emissions,
plans to include 17GW of renewable energy that will deliver 9% of supply by 2030,
9.6GW from a nuclear fleet.
Coal, nevertheless, dominates the electricity generation mix.
The nuclear complication
In 2013 a revised Integrated Resource Plan was put out for public comment. This was in keeping with the expectation that the original would be updated on a biennial basis. It proposed lower electricity demand because of a decline in economic growth, higher prices and increased energy efficiency. The revised plan also stated that commitments to long-range, large-scale investment decisions should be avoided. Notably the revised demand projections suggested that:
no new nuclear baseload capacity would be required until after 2025 and, for lower demand, not until at earliest 2035.
The revised plan is unlikely to be approved because it seriously challenges the case for the proposed 9.6GW nuclear power programme.
The cost of the programme has yet to be determined and it is still unclear if it will be affordable. This programme, which is being pushed by the Presidency, is tied up in broader political wrangling. Serious questions over affordability have been linked to the firing of the finance minister Nhlanhla Nene in December 2015 who opposed the programme on the grounds of cost.
If the nuclear programme is approved, it will shape the country’s electricity mix, infrastructure and related tariffs for years to come. While it may reduce carbon emissions in the long term, this will come at a greater cost than other options.
The role of renewables
South Africa has made a significant move toward decarbonisation through a renewable energy procurement programme. Launched in 2011, the programme followed the inclusion of a carbon constraint in the country’s Integrated Resource Plan for electricity. Since then there has been significant growth in the renewable sector backed by South Africa’s banks and private investors.
The country’s renewable energy programme is internationally celebrated as a success for the procurement of renewable energy from independent power producers. In addition the costs of these renewable energy technologies have decreased dramatically in the past four years. Utility-scale wind and solar photovoltaics are now cost competitive with Eskom’s new-build coal.
Grid-tied, roof-top solar photovoltaics are also rapidly emerging, despite the continued absence of an appropriate regulatory framework. These are being installed by wealthy households and businesses who are trying to buy independence from an increasingly unreliable grid and rising electricity tariffs.
Some large industrial players are also trying to connect their own generation plants to the grid through wheeling agreements. These involve independent power producers selling electricity to a third party via Eskom’s grid.
These agreements suddenly seem more attractive in light of the supply-side crisis and the uncertainty of Eskom’s ability to meet the electricity demand. But they have been stymied because rules around their cost have not been established.
The final piece of the puzzle is to ensure that all decarbonisation efforts and energy supply reach low income consumers. If the country’s tariffs continue to increase it will become even more difficult for the lower income bracket to have access to modern energy services.
Lucy Baker, Research Fellow, International Relations, The Sussex Energy Group, Centre for Global Political Economy, University of Sussex and Jesse Burton, PhD Candidate in energy and industrial policy, economic history, domestic and international coal markets, the mining and minerals sectors, and state-business relations in South Africa, University of Cape Town
- Prof. Wikus van Niekerk, 15 March 2016Read more
The Centre for Renewable and Sustainable Energy Studies hosted a very successful workshop on the Economics of Nuclear Energy with the WWF, the Heinrich Böll Foundation and the Goedgedacht Forum on 9 March 2016 in Johannesburg.
Mr Mycle Schneider an independent energy and nuclear analyst and lead-author of the annual The World Nuclear Industry Status Report introduced the topic by highlighting the current state of the nuclear industry globally. He showed with empirical data that, when one excludes China, there has been no improvement in the status of the nuclear industry over the last ten years with only a few nuclear power stations under construction of which a number have been severely delayed and/or face significant cost overruns. The impact of Fukushima is still felt worldwide, exactly five years after the nuclear disaster that displaced over 160 000 people from their homes and is still releasing nuclear active material into the environment.
During the workshop the panel discussing the costs of nuclear power for South Africa and the available financing options made some very interesting and clear points:
- The South African Government is not able to fund the construction of the proposed nuclear build programme and if this is the preferred funding option the State will have to go to the market to find the capital to do so.
- There is very little liquidity in the capital markets at this time and there will be no appetite from financiers to fund nuclear power stations where work stoppages by regulators and cost overruns are common putting the return on their investment at risk.
- Currently the Minister of Finance is working very hard to prevent the rating agencies to downgrade South Africa’s credit rating to junk and any venture into building a nuclear power station will work directly against this campaign.
- In a build, own and operate scenario it is expected that any nuclear vendor who will bring their own funding for the project will require a power purchase agreement in US Dollars or Euros placing a significant exchange rate risk on the electricity consumers in South Africa, and the South African Government who will have to underwrite such an agreement.
Based on these arguments there were consensus that it is highly unlikely that the building of a single nuclear power station in South Africa will go ahead at this time. It was interesting to note that in the same week EDF’s Finance Director Thomas Piquemal resigned, reportedly over the plan of EDF/Areva to build the next Hinckley Point nuclear plant in England.
So it seems that South Africa’s proposed 9,6 GW nuclear build programme may indeed not be able to go ahead.
During the workshop it was also pointed out that the demand for electricity has remained flat for nearly ten years indicating a decoupling between economic growth and electricity consumption. Given the uncertainty of how the demand for electricity will increase in the coming years a more flexible power supply with smaller units are required. This will probably consist out of combined cycle gas powered stations using imported liquid natural gas while domestic gas supplies are developed. This flexible supply can easily be combined with low cost electricity from wind and solar plants to supply South Africa’s electricity demand.
- Airports Company South Africa, 26 February 2016Read more
Airports Company South Africa has launched its first 200 square meter solar power plant at George Airport in the Western Cape, further demonstrating its commitment to clean energy generation and sustainability. George Airport is Africa’s first, and currently the only regional airport in South Africa, to be powered through solar energy.
The Solar plant is located on the grounds of George Airport. Building thereof commenced in March 2016 and took six months to complete at a cost of R16 million.The first phase, which is now complete, will supply 41% of the airport’s current energy demand, while the balance will be drawn from the national grid with supply capacity steadily being increased as per demand factors. The plant is designed to deliver 750Kw power to the airport once complete.
The use of renewable energy is in line with the Airports Company South Africa’s sustainability goals. The development of the plant is also aligned with the company’s aspirations to reduce its reliance on the national power grid.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the plant, Skhumbuzo Macozoma, Chairman of the Airports Company South Africa Board said the company will introduce an energy mix into all its airports and its long term vision, from 2025 -2030, is to achieve carbon neutrality in energy consumption and run Green Airports in order to achieve a Green Building Council of South Africa 6 star rating.
“As an airports management company running nine airports nationally, part of our strategic objective is to minimise our environmental impact. There are a number of key drivers Airports Company South Africa needs to manage to reach this objective and these include reducing energy consumption, water consumption, percentage of waste recycled, noise levels and energy efficient materials usage, amongst others.
“Harnessing solar power is a viable cleaner energy source which contributes towards diversifying the energy mix. This plant will ensure that the airport is self-sustaining in terms of its power needs and will eventually extend to the broader community within the George municipality.”
Airports Company South Africa chief executive officer, Mr. Bongani Maseko said: “The interconnection between us and the external environment is the core of our value creation. We are always on the lookout for opportunities to develop cleaner energy sources that also aid us in our cost-cutting efforts as well as lessen the pressure of power demand on the national grid.”
The opening ceremony was attended and officiated by the Minister of Transport, Dipuo Peters, the MEC of Transport in the Western Cape, Mr. Donald Grant, The Executive Mayor of George Municipality, Cllr Charles Staner, and other national and provincial dignitaries.
- Noupoort Wind Farm, 25 February 2016Read more
Noupoort Wind Farm, in the Northern Cape, has announced that the wind farm is now connected to the Eskom grid and commissioning of wind turbines has commenced. “We energised the substation on 12 February and the first turbines on 23 February, marking a pivotal point in the construction of the wind farm as we begin the process of testing,” explained Martina Flanagan, Project Manager of Noupoort Wind Farm.
This ZAR1.9 billion project is the first wind farm as part of Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme’s round three to energize and is expected to also be the first to complete construction in the Northern Province by mid-2016.
The team at Noupoort Wind Farm has been working closely with their contractor, Consolidated Power Projects, and the various Eskom teams to achieve this milestone. “We’re working together with the Eskom teams in both the Northern and Eastern Cape Operating Units to ensure a smooth and safe energisation and commissioning process,” added Flanagan.
The substation is divided into two parts; one section is owned by the wind farm and the other section and the overhead line will be handed over to Eskom for ownership and operation. The substation is situated in the centre of the wind farm and is the place where all the 33 kV cables from the turbines meet. At this meeting point the power from the wind farm goes through power quality checks and measurement devices. Following this, the power is directed through the transformer where the voltage is increased to 132 kV. The power is then exported from the transformer on a single power line. At this stage the power crosses onto the Eskom side of the substation where further power quality checks and measurements are completed before exporting onto the 10 km long 132 kV line which connects the wind farm to the main Eskom grid for distribution. This connection point is situated just 3km’s south of the town of Noupoort.
Construction of the wind farm is progressing smoothly with over half of the project’s total 35 wind turbines having already been erected. The transportation of the various components is also running according to schedule and is expected to reach completion by the end of March 2016.
- Noupoort Wind Farm, 08 December 2015Read more
Noupoort Wind Farm, in the Northern Cape, has announced that it has completed the erection of the first of its thirty-five wind turbines. This is a pivotal point in the construction of the wind farm, with the next major construction milestone being the energisation of the substation.
Noupoort Wind Farm completed all wind turbine foundations ahead of schedule last month and also recently received its main transformer responsible for increasing the voltage from 33kV to 132KV, the voltage at which the electricity is transferred to Eskom’s national grid.
The ZAR1.9 billion wind farm is expected to start supplying electricity to the national grid by mid-2016, as part of the third round of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme.
So far, the wind farm has seen the delivery of more than 100 of the 315 abnormal loads to the wind farm.
Siemens Wind Power along with their subcontractors, Fairwind and BMS, are responsible for the installation. The wind farm is expected to generate approximately 305 000MWh each year of clean, renewable energy to the national grid and will avoid roughly 300,000 tonnes of carbon emissions annually when compared to traditional fossil fuel power plants.
Further information is available on the Noupoort Wind Farm website: www.noupoortwind.co.za.
- David Richard Walwyn, 27 November 2015Read more
There has been a rapid decline in the costs of solar and wind power, to such an extent that both technologies are now cheaper than nuclear or coal. This development will radically transform global electricity generation networks.
How this transformation takes place in South Africa will depend on the role of government, the regulator, the market and to some extent civil society.
At the moment government is pursuing a strategy based on a limited number of high capacity sites. These are connected to the national grid and owned or operated by about 100 independent power producers. The strategy preserves country’s energy provider Eskom’s monopoly over national distribution, and the holding power of municipalities over distribution at the local level.
South Africa has no option but to derive a higher proportion of electricity demand from renewable sources. This will relieve pressure on the environment as well as stimulate the economy.
Based on present estimates, there is sufficient base load capacity to allow solar penetration to reach levels of at least 30% without needing to reconfigure the existing hardware.
By the end of June 2015, about 5% of South Africa’s electricity requirements were being provided by renewables, excluding hydro, of which one third is being supplied by solar. By 2030, the plan is to have 21% of the total capacity being derived from renewables.
But the government’s continued strategy to centralise energy generation is a barrier to progress. This is because it entrenches the right of local authorities to control energy retail. The actors in these networks are protective of their markets and resistant to more decentralised, democratic approaches.
This means that a number of possible alternatives are not being explored. For example, one option would be to install solar photovoltaic panels on rooftops in low-income areas. This would enable households to generate energy which they could use for their own benefit as well as the benefit of their communities.
How it can be done
The attitude of local authorities to rooftop energy is not a positive one. They tend to overlook its potential as a way of uplifting low income areas through the development of new economic sectors and the use of progressive feed-in tariffs. These involve individuals being paid for the electricity they generate for their own use, or for selling to the grid. Instead, local authorities claim that the technology will disrupt their efforts to subsidise electricity purchases by communities.
But detailed analysis suggests that the impact on electricity revenues will be minimal. It will be around 1% to 5% depending on the assumptions.
Rooftop energy will further reduce the vulnerability of local authorities to non-payment by consumers. It will act as a boost to local economic development and assist in meeting national sustainable development targets, including carbon emissions and water usage. And it is affordable.
The average low-income house has sufficient roof area to support a 5kW solar photovoltaic array. These households will be able to earn the equivalent of R2,000 per month from the panels, either to be used within the household or sold to the grid. But that’s only if they have the appropriate feed-in tariff.
The initial investment is about R20 000 per peak kW or R100 000 for a 5 kW system. This is affordable if treated in the same way as a property bond, despite being beyond the consumption budget of most households. Monthly repayments would be about R850 per month, giving a net benefit of R1,200 per month.
Germany shows how it can be done
Sustainability transitions, or Energiewende, has emerged as a new field of research and literature. It is particularly used to describe how to facilitate and ensure the transformation of energy systems. This research has highlighted the complexity of attaining such transformations. It has also highlighted the important role of policy in stimulating or providing incentives for the necessary changes.
Germany is at the leading edge of energy transitions. It has already reached a single-day record of 78% of its electricity being generated from renewable resources. The success of the German approach can be ascribed to a number of factors.
These include: generous demand side subsidies and the flexibility of local authorities to re-direct their sources of bulk energy procurement. They have also switched from single-source providers, like South Africa’s energy provider Eskom, to multi-source and highly distributed networks of generators.
Fortunately there are signs that resistance by South African authorities is weakening. At a recent local government conference, municipalities were advised to follow alternative strategies. These include the introduction of a fixed network-connection fee, which would be a minimum monthly charge to cover maintenance of the network regardless of usage. This would allow revenues to be protected regardless of the amount of electricity being sold. Such an approach has already been implemented by coastal city Cape Town, although to a very limited extent.
Attaining higher levels of renewable energy will require cheaper storage options and, in the short term, increased reliance on natural gas and hopefully also biogas produced from organic matter. The challenge for local authorities is not to deepen their dependence on an increasingly expensive or unreliable single-source supply. Municipalities need to consider a future which includes more distributed and democratic systems. This includes procuring energy from rooftop photovoltaic power installed in low income areas.
- Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm, 27 November 2015Read more
Young leaners are benefiting through collaborative efforts of the government and the private sector. According to the Institute of Training and Education for Capacity Building, an NPO situated in East London, Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm’s Foundation Phase Reading Coaches Support Programme, is an example of how well the public and private sector can work together to benefit society. “Education is a societal duty and the responsibility not only of government, but also of civil society. The effects of our history on the fabric of our whole society, including education, have been so profound that it will take the efforts of all sectors to build a stronger education system,” said Ms Barbara Valentine, Research and Development for Institute of Training and Education for Capacity Building.
Co-operation, support and involvement from the Department of Education is crucial, as the Department is ultimately accountable for all programmes within schools. “Without a mutually supportive relationship with the Department and especially the Uitenhage District Department of Education, we wouldn’t be able to implement any of the school-based programmes,” explained Marion Green-Thompson, Economic Development Manager for Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm. The wind farm has shown its commitment to helping communities through education, with a focus on foundation and early childhood development. The programme aims to improve the literacy and numeracy skills of primary school learners, through the introduction of Reading Coaches, into 12 beneficiary schools. Coaches run reading sessions with groups of up to fifteen, grades 1 – 3 learners at a time, although most of these groups are smaller so that each child gets individual attention.
This programme, which launched in October 2014, has been funded for a three year period by the wind farm, to the value of R1 307 540.00 to date of which R198 000 was specifically allocated for the purchase of books for approximately 6 762 learners across twelve schools, all falling within a 50km radius of the wind farm.
Participating schools in the vicinity of Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm include: Chigwell Primary School, Gamtoosvalley Primary School, Graslaagte Primary School, Kruisfontein Primary School, Masisebenze Primary School, Mzingisi Primary School, Patensie Primary School, Quagga Primary School, St Patricks EC Primary School, Vukani Primary School, Weston Primary School and Sea Vista Primary School.
“It is widely acknowledged that the biggest challenge to education outcomes is the lack of literacy and numeracy skills at the Foundation Phase stage, as it limits learners’ potential as they progress higher up the education chain. This needs to be addressed so that children have the right skills to take mathematics and science through to Grade 12,” concluded Green-Thompson.
- eThekwini Energy Office, 27 November 2015Read more
The eThekwini Municipality is now one of only two African cities that is compliant with the ‘Compact of Mayors’, a group of cities, led by their mayors, from around the world that are committed to decreasing Greenhouse Gas Emissions and enhancing resilience in the face of climate change, while monitoring progress on a public platform
The Compact of Mayors was established by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Michael Bloomberg, U.N Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change, ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI), C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group (C40), United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) and the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat).
eThekwini Mayor, Councilor James Nxumalo, pledged the city’s commitment to the Mayor’s Compact during the 2015 ICLEI World Congress held in Seoul, South Korea. Meeting compliance requirements of the compact is a lengthy and complicated process, which eThekwini has now successfully completed.
The requirements include demonstrating commitment to climate change mitigation through reduced greenhouse gas emissions, measurement of community emissions, setting of reduction targets and development of a climate action plan as well as adaptation measures through addressing impacts of climate change, identifying climate change hazards, assessing vulnerabilities and developing adaptation plans.
The eThekwini Municipality is proud to now join the cities of Buenos Aires, Copenhagen, Melbourne, New York, Oslo, Rio de Janeiro, San Francisco, Stockholm, Sydney, Washington DC and Cape Town in the Compact of Mayors with ambitious targets for climate change mitigation and adaptation ahead of the COP 21 Climate Conference in Paris at the end of 2015.
- Loeriesfontein Wind Farm, 27 November 2015Read more
Loeriesfontein Wind Farm has announced that its wind turbine foundations are utilising one of the world’s lowest quantities of Portland cement in the concrete formulation. The foundations are designed using an 89% replacement of cement, resulting in, what we believe to be, one of the world’s lowest carbon footprints for any wind farm foundation; according to research scientist, and head of Murray & Roberts’ Concrete Centre for Excellence, Cyril Attwell.
The first two bases, which were completed on 13 October, utilised an 80% replacement of Portland cement, whilst the remaining foundations use a unique design comprising 35kgs of high grade Portland cement per cubic meter, an 89% reduction from a standard concrete mix. This composition has resulted in the wind farm’s carbon footprint being reduced to approximately 90.7kg of carbon dioxide per cubic meter. Ground Granulated Corex Slag (GGCS), a by-product from the iron industry, is used to replace 89% of the cement. “Cement manufacturing is typically a highly energy intensive process. By substituting the cement with a by-product such as GGCS, we are able to reduce our carbon footprint considerably,” said Leo Quinn, Project Manager for Loeriesfontein Wind Farm.
A twenty-eight day compressive strength test has been completed, which indicated that the 80% replacement ratio achieved an impressive strength of 55MPa (megapascals), and an expected ultimate strength of 100MPa, within a fifty-six day period. “The strength of concrete is measured in megapascals; theoretically a cubic metre of concrete that is rated 30 MPa, is able to withstand the weight of six bull elephants, whereas these foundations are able to withstand the approximate mass of 20 bull elephants standing on a square centimetre of concrete – a phenomenal feat,” demonstrated Cyril Attwell, Murray & Roberts Construction, Group Concrete & Research Manager.
A carbon footprint is defined as the total amount of greenhouse gases produced to directly and indirectly support human activities, expressed in equivalent tons of carbon dioxide (CO2). “The achieved reduction in our carbon footprint is phenomenal, especially considering that a standard 30MPa concrete as supplied by the ready-mix industry equates to a carbon footprint of approximately 300kgs to 350kgs of CO2 per cubic meter,” explained Leo Quinn, Project Manager for Loeriesfontein Wind Farm. Traditionally, 30 MPa concrete requires between 300kg and 350kg of ordinary cement per cubic metre. But now scientists working for Murray & Roberts have developed a technology that meets the 30 MPa standard using just 25kg of cement or even less. Not only does it meet the standard, it far exceeds it. To date strengths of up to 52 MPa have been achieved on other sites using Murray & Roberts’ patented ARC (Advanced Recrystallisation) technology and 0kg of Portland cement per cubic metre.
Loeriesfontein Wind Farm is situated within the Hantam Municipality and will comprise 61 wind turbines with a cumulative output of 140MW and will generate approximately 563,500 MWh/year of clean, renewable energy to the national grid. The wind farm will avoid approximately 550,000 tonnes of carbon emissions each year when compared to traditional fossil fuel power plants and generate enough to power around 120 000 average South African households.
The site, which spans a total of 3 453 hectares, was chosen for its excellent wind resource, favourable construction conditions and straightforward electrical connection into Eskom’s Helios substation. The wind turbines will be supplied by world-leading manufacturer Siemens Wind Power, with the blades, hubs and nacelles that compose them arriving from overseas at a nearby port and being transported by road to Loeriesfontein. The 99m turbine towers are to be manufactured by GRI, in Atlantis, in the Western Cape. Civil and electrical works are to be completed by a consortium comprised of Murray and Roberts Construction and Consolidated Power Projects.
The Loeriesfontein Wind Farm is part of the South African Government’s Round 3 Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPP) is expected to be operational by December 2017.
- Stephen Forder, 06 November 2015Read more
Wind energy leaders were recognised for their contributions to the industry last night at an awards dinner for more than 300 guests held as part of Windaba 2015, the South African Wind Energy Association's (SAWEA) annual conference.
In additon to the traditional categories, two special accolades of ‘Wind Energy Pioneer Award’ were bestowed upon two individuals for outstanding services to the industry. Considered the highest honour, these awards were given to Mark Tanton, Managing Director of Red Cap Investments and Ayanda Nakedi, Senior General Manager at Eskom’s Renewables Business.
According to SAWEA CEO Johan van den Berg, “we have a fantastic industry full of highly skilled and committed individuals and organisations. Being able to honour these achievements is one of the best parts of my role. This year we wanted to give credit to two people who have offered so much to our sector and been an integral part of getting us to where we are today a flourishing and successful market.”
The evening was not without some degree of controversy, however, as concern was expressed about the degree of transformation that had taken place in the wind energy industry over the roughly four years of its short existence. At the surface, the gala event which was attended by the Minister of Energy Tina Joemat-Pettersson, did not reflect a transformed industry and the discussion on this spilled over into the conference proceedings the next day in a session entitled "Seizing the Opportunities to Transform Our Society."
Speaking at the session, Karen Breytenbach, Head of the Independent Power Producer Office, reminded industry participants that the Government had done everything in its power to invite the private sector into the lucrative electricity sector and had set various socio-economic and local economic development thresholds and targets for each of the projects, but that it was their job to "make sure that we do adhere to what is important for transforming our society in terms of black economic empowerment".
Access to finance, access to industry opportunities and the capacity of emerging black businesses to respond to market opportunities along with the degree of committment by foreign-based companies to the local transformation agenda were all highlighted as barriers to a transformed and representative industry.
Heather Sonn, Chairperson of the South African Wind Energy Association, called on the industry to tackle the transformation agenda head on, suggesting a period of introspection from participants. "Black people must lead. We need to get into a situation where across the colour line we start seeing people as leaders and asking questions that inform the direction of our country".
Sonn concluded the session saying that "we are seeing last night as a milestone moment and we have heard what the challenges are across the sector and will be taking them on and will review where we are in twelve months time". She referred to the industry as having reached an "inflection point" in her closing address of Windaba 2015 later the same day.
Besides the Wind Energy Pioneer Awards, other winners announced at the gala dinner included:
Preferred bidders, REIPPP round 4
- BioTherm Energy for Golden Valley Wind Farm
- Renewable Energy Systems for Oyster Bay Wind Farm
- G7 Energies for Roggeveld Wind farm
- African Clean Energy Developments for Karusa Wind Farm
- African Clean Energy Developments for Nxuba Wind Farm
Preferred bidders, REIPPP round 4+
- African Clean Energy Developments for Soetwater Wind Farm
- Mainstream Renewable Power for Kangnas Wind Farm
- Mainstream Renewable Power for Perdekraal East Wind Farm
- BioTherm Energy for Excelsior Wind Farm
- Innowind for Wesley-Ciskei Wind Farm
- Gestamp Renewables for Copperton Wind Farm
- Juwi Energy for Garob Wind Farm
Preferred Lender - ABSA Bank
Preferred Developer - Mainstream Renewable Power
Preferred Original Equipment Manufacturer - Siemens
Preferred Environmental Consultant on Wind Projects - Savannah Environmental
Preferred Wind Energy Law Firm of the Year - Norton Rose Fulbright
Best Journalistic Coverage of Wind Energy - Carol Paton, Business Day
Best Academic/Research & Development Contribution to Wind Power in SA - Johan Nico Stander
Best Contribution to Local Content - Santie Gouws
Awards were also given to all the voluntary chairs of the 10 working groups
- Hartmut Winkler, 05 November 2015Read more
It has been an eventful year in South Africa, characterised by power cuts, parliamentary confrontations about wasteful expenditure and student fee protests. There has, however, been a massive elephant in the room that has impacted all these issues but enjoyed surprisingly scarce attention. The idea, vigorously driven by government, is for the country to build nuclear plants with an expected price tag of one trillion rand.
This equates to 4000 times the controversial costs to upgrade President Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla residence and 400 times the shortfall the tertiary education sector will experience in 2016 because of the freeze in university fee increases.
South Africa’s electricity needs
The expansion of South Africa’s power generating capacity is a necessary condition for economic growth and housing development.
Delays in its implementation, as well as the collapse of ageing power utility Eskom’s infrastructure, have forced frequent scheduled power outages. The expansion program is guided by the Department of Energy’s Integrated Resource Plan for Electricity 2010-2030.
The plan proposed transforming the South African energy generation mix from the current completely coal dominated one to a more balanced setup in 2030. The aim was that by then 10.3% and 10.7% would be allocated to wind and solar renewable energy technologies; and 12.7%, or 9600 MW in generating capacity, to nuclear.
The on, off, on-again nuclear build
The Fukushima nuclear catastrophe resulted in a worldwide critical reevaluation of the safety and necessity of nuclear energy. Some new projects were cancelled. Germany went as far as adopting a road map that would lead to the eventual closure of all its nuclear power stations.
In South Africa too the need for the continued inclusion of nuclear power in the energy mix was being reexamined. In addition to the negative public sentiment towards nuclear, it was also noted that energy demand was increasing at less than the projected rate. This was partly due to a depression of the mining and heavy industry sectors.
This led to an update of the resources plan in 2013. Configurations without nuclear energy were shown to be optimal in several of the scenarios investigated in the document. It concluded:
The nuclear decision can possibly be delayed. The revised demand projections suggest that no new nuclear base-load capacity is required until after 2025 (and for lower demand not until at earliest 2035).
But in late 2014 the government took an about-turn in its approach to the nuclear build, displaying a sudden urgency to seal a large deal with Russia. The speedy and secretive manner in which government initiated a process with massive and long-term cost implications, and the inexplicable decision to declare Russia as a preferred partner ahead of other potential options, immediately led to intense suspicion of corruption.
With reference to a previous scandal-enveloped acquisition mega-project, the nuclear build became labelled as a new arms deal “on steroids”.
Government soon denied the Russians were the designated preferential suppliers. It quickly arranged a series of “nuclear vendor parade workshops”, where other countries could showcase their products. Nonetheless, the perception remains that the Russian nuclear developer Rosatom has already been assured of its frontrunner status.
The opaqueness of the process is further illustrated by the vagueness of the construction plans, including the plant locations and specifications. The proposed nuclear plant locations have not been fully disclosed. An initial study in 2007 compared five coastal sites: Duynefontein (near the existing Koeberg plant in Cape Town), Bantamsklip (between Gansbaai and Cape Agulhas), Thyspunt (close to Jeffrey’s Bay) and two localities on the Namaqualand shoreline.
At a press briefing in July 2015, Department of Energy and Nuclear Energy Corporation of South Africa representatives disclosed that there may eventually be as many as eight nuclear plants, with unnamed sites in the province of KwaZulu-Natal now also under consideration. Most recently, a draft Environmental Impact Assessment presents Thyspunt as the preferred site for a 4000 MW nuclear plant dubbed “Nuclear 1”.
Cost and completion time
The ongoing construction of two mega coal power stations at Medupi and Kusile amply illustrates what could happen with the nuclear build. Work on Medupi commenced in 2007, and was initially projected to be completed in 2011. Its new completion date is given as 2019, meaning the construction period is likely to be at least three times that initially declared.
The costs have also spiralled to over R150 billion, double the initial estimate. If similar circumstances prevail in the nuclear build, that would result in a construction process of 20 years or more and a price tag of one or two trillion rand (at current South African rand value, given the current 500 to 1000 billion rand cost estimate). Some funding models only require later payment, but these will then saddle the future generation with a huge debt burden.
The nuclear build is a very risky exercise with numerous potential pitfalls. And there are alternatives. The shortfall in the projected nuclear capacity can be covered by a 50% larger than planned renewable energy investment. Wind and solar energy plants have been operationalised on schedule, and solar panel prices continue falling. The intermittence of renewable energy availability is considered manageable. Finally, energy saving strategies have yet to be fully explored.
- South African Wind Energy Association (SAWEA), 04 November 2015Read more
Speaking at Windaba 2015’s opening session, Head of the Independent Power Producer’s Office, Karen Breytenbach, emphasised a number of statistics showing the widespread benefits of wind energy, including the huge savings to our precious water resource brought about by the use of renewable energy resources.: “For each kilowatt hour of renewable energy that displaces fossil fuels in the national grid, 1.2 litres of water will be saved. At full operation of the entire portfolio, the programme will save 52 million litres of water per annum, another fact that cannot be ignored”.
She added that misplaced concerns over the availability of wind energy could be put to rest reporting that “out of wind energy’s overall contribution to electricity generation, 15% of that has come during peak hours over the last six months and will continue to play a key role as the installed capacity grows, filling our peak hours with clean energy.”
The following is a summary of facts and figures from both the South African wind energy sector and the REIPPP programme as a whole:
- In 2010, the Department of Energy, the Treasury and the Development Bank of Southern Africa collaborated to set up the Independent Power Producer (IPP) office and designed the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producers Procurement Programme (REIPPPP). At the heart of the programme was the provision that Eskom enter into Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs), ensuring that investors could forecast accurately their profits and bankability – which is enhanced by having payment risk mitigated by government guarantee.
- The Department of Energy has committed to 13,225MW of renewable energy generation by 2025. This will be secured under the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer’s Procurement Programme (REIPPPP), which has been running since 2011 and has already completed 4 successful bidding rounds with a total of 92 projects (see a map of the projects here: http://energy.org.za/knowledge-tools/map-of-sites).
- SA’s 2010 Integrated Resource Plan (2010-2030) calls for 17,800 MW of renewable energy to be energy Nation place by 2030. That equals more than one fifth of the county’s predicted demand.
- The overarching National Development Plan calls for a ‘greater mix of energy sources and a greater diversity of independent power producers (IPPs) in the energy industry’, acknowledging that energy market must look very different in years to come that how it appears now.
- In 2009 President Jacob Zuma committed South Africa to take mitigating action that would reduce emissions by 34% by 2020, and 42% by 2025 below “business as usual”, provided the international community supported the country with financial aid and the transfer of technology. In a short space of time these goals are being realised and we now have a flourishing and expanding renewable energy sector.
Electricity added to the grid
- To date 43 REIPPPP facilitated projects are fully operational, adding 2062 MW to the grid. Details are:
- 13 fully operational wind farm developments feeding 953 MW into the national grid
- 27 solar photovoltaic developments equalling 995MW
- 1 Concentrated Solar Power plant at 100MW
- 2 hydroelectric power plants totalling 14.3MW
- There are now more than 400 wind turbines creating electricity throughout South Africa
- The REIPPPP is bringing renewable energy to the National grid fast and cheaper than new-build coal. Construction times for projects average less than two years, and the electricity price paid to projects has declined 68% within three years.
- The price of wind energy in Round 4(a) was R619/MWh almost 40% cheaper than forecast prices for Eskom’s new-build coal plants Medupi and Kusile.
- Local communities (within a 50 km radius of developments) are already substantial beneficiaries of renewables, with an average shareholding of 10.5% in renewable projects. This constitutes more than four times obligated minimum of 2.5% which forms part of the criteria of the REIPPPP.
- Host communities will have billions of Rand invested in socioeconomic development from funds provided by these developments.
- The total projected value of goods and services to be procured from broad-based black economic empowerment suppliers is more than R101bn.
- The Department of Energy announced last month (October 2015) that R91.1 billion is committed to various development initiatives under the REIPPPP
- Significant job creation has come along with the REIPPPP and will continue to grow as the allocation expands and renewable energy development escalates.
- Local manufacturing has been boosted by the wind industry with DCD manufacturing wind turbine towers in Port Elizabeth and Spain’s Gestamp Renewable Industries also recently opening a wind turbine tower manufacturing facility in Atlantis outside Cape Town.
- According to the Treasury, as of October 2015, 92 projects had been selected as part of the REIPPPP, attracting R193bn in private sector investment totalling a contribution of 6 327 MW of capacity to the national grid.
- 28% of this total comes from foreign investment – R53.2bn. This equals 85.8% of total direct foreign investment in South Africa last year.
- Investment in renewables grew 20,500% in one year between 2011 and 2012 – the first year of the REIPPPP.
- South Africa has a world-first wind atlas – a high-definition map which shows Independent Power Producers the best sites for wind energy development, allowing them to short-cut access to data to help them identify potential wind farm sites.
- Renewable energy production so far has cut the equivalent of 4.4million tonnes of carbon dioxide.
- The 2014 United Nations Environment Programme put South Africa among the top 10 countries for renewable energy investments.
- According to a report by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, wind energy produced net savings of R1.8 billion in the first half of 2015 and was also cash positive for Eskom by R300 million. Collectively wind energy and solar power (photovoltaic) saved R4 billion from January to June this year.
- South African Wind Energy Association (SAWEA), 04 November 2015Read more
In the year that wind power helped to keep South Africa's lights on at a cost less than zero, approximately five hundred international and local delegates are gathering in Cape Town to discuss the accomplishments, challenges and future of South Africa's flourishing wind energy sector.
"In a narrow sense we as SA Incorporated are electricity constrained and we must plot how wind power can best contribute to further alleviating this challenge", explains Heather Sonn, Chair of the South African Wind Energy Association, the custodian of Windaba. "In the broad sense...", she continues, "... the country through the National Development Plan is driving at a developmental state based on a public private partnership that delivers sustainable development from the ground up. This is exactly what is happening in the wind sector in South Africa, hence the conference theme - Powering the winds of change."
Sonn's assertions are clearly supported by the facts. As a consequence of a world class procurement programme the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer's Procurement Programme (REIPPPP), the broader Renewable Energy Industry has attracted R193 billion in private sector investment since 2012. R53.2billion (28%) of this total comes from abroad – totalling 85.8% of total direct foreign investment in South Africa last year.
There are more than 400 wind turbines spinning across the country: 13 wind farms totalling 953MW feeding desperately needed power to our ailing electricity grid. All of these developments have been built through private investment, costing the tax payer nothing.
The good news story doesn't end there. The renewable energy projects procured so far under the REIPPPP have already committed R91.1 billion to various development initiatives including socio-economic development and enterprise development.
Local communities (within a 50 km radius of developments) are already substantial beneficiaries of renewables, with an average shareholding of 10.5% in renewable projects. This constitutes more than four times the obligated minimum of 2.5% which forms part of the criteria of the REIPPPP.
These figures will escalate significantly as more projects are procured – an extra 6300 megawatts (MW) of capacity across technologies was allocated to the REIPPPP by the Department of Energy earlier this year, taking the total allocation to 13,225 MW on target to be generated by 2025. It is likely wind power as the lowest cost option will continue to contribute close to 50% of renewable energy procured.
The REIPPPP is bringing renewable energy to South Africa much faster and cheaper than new-build coal. Construction times for projects average less than two years, and the electricity price paid to projects has declined around 68% within three years.
The price of wind energy in Round 4(a) was R619/MWh almost 40% cheaper than forecast prices for Eskom's new-build coal plants Medupi and Kusile, which are also experiencing significant delays and won't be fully operational until 2020 and 2021 respectively.
Windaba demonstrates the benefits of effective public-private collaboration. The very distinguished list of speakers include local and international captains of industry but also a very strong contingent of public sector contributors. The two day conference provides a forum for discussion about the wind sector's progress, key issues and challenges and knowledge sharing, as well as business-to-business engagements.
- Mainstream Renewable Power to take delivery of South Africa’s largest locally-manufactured wind turbine tower orderMainstream Renewable Power, 21 October 2015Read more
Global wind and solar company, Mainstream Renewable Power, today started overseeing the transportation of wind turbine tower sections from the GRI - Renweable Industries manufacturing facility near Cape Town to the Noupoort Wind Farm site in South Africa's Northern Cape. Mainstream is currently building three wind farms in the country's Northern Cape which have a combined capacity of 360 megawatts. All 157 wind turbine towers for the three wind farms are being manufactured by GRI - Renewable Industries at a manufacturing facility located in Atlantis.
The R300 million facility currently employs 240 people and will increase this figure to 270 during 2016. It is capable of producing 150 turbine towers a year; the first 35 of which are for the 80MW Noupoort wind farm which is being built by Mainstream. The 35 towers are being transported in 140 sections along the 1,000km route which takes four days to complete.
"We are delighted to be receiving the first of these locally manufactured wind turbine towers at Noupoort Wind Farm. Local content has a vital role to play in the long-term growth and sustainability of South Africa's hugely successful renewable energy programme," explained Martina Flanagan, Project Manager for Noupoort Wind Farm.
The three wind farms comprise the 140MW Khobab wind farm and the 140MW Loeriesfontein 2 wind farm, both located in the Namakwa District Municipality, as well as the 80MW Noupoort wind farm located in Umsobomvu Local Municipality.
Janek Winand, the head of Wind Power and Renewables at Siemens Southern and Eastern Africa says: "Adding local value by supporting development is indeed a key priority for Siemens. In the pursuit of this we have managed to be part of the local manufacturing of key components for the wind farm industry through building a new tower factory in Atlantis. Creating sustainable work opportunities and development within the community."
- Noupoort Wind farm, 20 October 2015Read more
Noupoort Wind Farm commenced with the transportation of the various turbine components on 19 October, with the first wind turbine tower sections departing from Atlantis, Cape Town and wind turbine blades leaving from the Port of Ngqura, in Port Elizabeth, both en route to Noupoort in the Northern Cape.
The locally manufactured turbine tower sections, means that Noupoort Wind Farm has been able to achieve local content commitments exceeding 40% of the project’s total value.
“We are delighted to be receiving the first of these locally manufactured wind turbine towers at Noupoort Wind Farm. Local content has a vital role to play in the long-term growth and sustainability of South Africa’s hugely successful renewable energy programme,” explained Martina Flanagan, Project Manager for Noupoort Wind Farm.
The wind turbines for the project are supplied by Siemens Pty Ltd and the transportation campaign is carried out by DHL and ALE. The turbine towers are the first towers to be manufactured by GRI in Atlantis in the Western Cape. The R300 million facility currently employs 240 people and will increase this figure to 270 during 2016. Janek Winand, the head of Wind Power and Renewables at Siemens Southern and Eastern Africa says: “Adding local value by supporting development is indeed a key priority for Siemens. In the pursuit of this we have managed to be part of the local manufacturing of key components for the wind farm industry through building a new tower factory in Atlantis. Creating sustainable work opportunities and development within the community.”
The facility is capable of producing 150 turbine towers a year; the first of the 35 towers or 140 sections of which will commence travel to Noupoort on the N1 via Worcester, Laingsburg and Beaufort West, a four day journey of 1 000 km. “Transportation of turbine components on our roads is not that unusual, considering around 300 turbines have already been successfully installed across South Africa, which is about 2 550 loads – very impressive for such a nascent industry”, said Flanagan.
Trucks with oversized trailers, varying in size of up to 57m in length, will deliver the various components to Noupoort Wind Farm over the next five months. The wind turbine components weigh a phenomenal 22 000 tonnes collectively and will travel over 200 000 km along three different routes. In addition to the tower sections, the nacelles and hubs will travel a 400 km route along the N10 from the Port of Ngqura to Uitenhage, through Graaff-Reinet and Middelburg to Noupoort. The 53m long blades will be transported from the same port on the N9 via Cookhouse, Cradock and Middleburg, for 380 km en route to Noupoort.
All loads will travel to site as single consignments with a rear escort at all times. “The turbine blades have both a front and rear escort in addition to a police escort,” explained Flanagan. Escorts provide warning to third party road users of the oncoming abnormal transport and are an important safety measure. All abnormal loads are prohibited from travelling at night, on public holidays or during school holidays. “We are pleased to be working with an experienced team who have successfully transported components for a number of wind farms across the country,” added Flanagan.
Transport schedules will available via the wind farm’s website, www.noupoortwind.co.za and adverts that will be run in local newspapers to assist commuters in their planning. Noupoort Wind Farm spans 7 500 hectares and comprises thirty five 99m-high wind turbines. The site was chosen because of its excellent wind resource, its proximity to national roads for wind turbine transportation, the favourable construction conditions, municipality and local stakeholder support, and studies showed that there would be little environmental impact. The wind farm is expected to generate approximately 305 000 MWh each year of clean, renewable energy to the national grid. When operating at full capacity, it is expected to supply enough green electricity to power approximately 70 000 average South African homes and avoid roughly 300 000 tonnes of carbon emissions each year when compared to traditional fossil fuel power plants.
- Louise Tait, 12 October 2015Read more
Africa is experiencing a massive flow of people into urban areas. This is happening in major urban centres such as Lagos, Accra and Dar es Salaam as well as in smaller and secondary cities. The pace at which this urban growth is happening inevitably puts strain on city authorities. The supply of services and developing infrastructure is vital for human and economic development.
But the evidence base to support forward planning remains scarce for most cities. In its absence, cities run the risk of infrastructural lock-ins to systems that are unable to accommodate their growth sustainably.
Cities with high concentrations of people and economic activities are major sites of energy demand. Africa contributes very little to global climate change today. But future growth must be managed sustainably. If the emissions of developing country cities increase similar to many western cities today, catastrophic climate change will be unavoidable.
The SAMSET project
Supporting African Municipalities in Sustainable Energy Transitions, or SAMSET, is a four-year project that commenced in 2013. Its aim was to address sustainable energy transitions in African cities. It provides practical planning and implementation support to municipalities to manage future energy planning in a sustainable manner.
The project involves six cities in Ghana, Uganda and South Africa. The cities were Ga East and Awutu Senya East in Ghana, Kasese and Jinja in Uganda and Cape Town and Polokwane in South Africa. Research and support organisations in each country and the UK were involved as well.
Secondary and smaller cities are the main focus for support. These cities are also experiencing massive social and economic expansions. But they typically have less capacity to cope. Despite their significance as current and future sites of energy demand, they receive much less research and funding focus.
Developing an evidence base to support planning
The first phase of the project involved developing an evidence base to support planning and future implementation of sustainable energy interventions. Locally relevant planning tools are essential. There are very few studies investigating and modelling the energy systems of African cities. South Africa is a notable exception.
An urban energy system refers to all the flows of different energy resources, such as petrol, diesel, electricity, wood and charcoal in a city. It records where resources are produced or imported into an area and where they are consumed in different sectors. Such information can help cities better understand which sectors are major consumers and identify inefficiencies. It also helps identify where opportunities for energy efficiency and new technologies may lie, especially those associated with improved economic and welfare effects.
Much of how we understand urban energy systems is based on cities in western and developed countries. But many cities in Africa challenge assumptions about economic development trajectories and spatial arrangements that may be implicit in energy modelling approaches which are based on developed country experiences.
SAMSET modelled the urban energy systems of each of these cities using the Long-range Energy Alternatives Planning model. It was developed by the Stockholm Environment Institute. This model records all energy consumption and production in each sector of an economy. For example the household, commercial, industrial and transport sectors are all recorded. It is a useful planning tool because it projects the growth of energy systems until 2030 under different scenarios. This helps cities understand the future impacts of different investment and planning decisions now.
For SAMSET, universities in each country undertook primary data collection on sectoral energy demand and supply. A baseline model and range of scenarios were then collaboratively developed with local research partners and municipalities.
The project aimed to develop an evidence base to serve as a tool for local decision-makers. Also for further collaborative energy strategy development and to prioritise the implementing of options for the next phases. The scenarios have therefore attempted the following:
- Through stakeholder engagement, to take into account governance systems.
- Existing infrastructural constraints and opportunities.
- Aligning with other development imperatives.
Value of the process
The project has served to introduce to city and local planners the use of energy models. It also attempted to set up the foundation for future development of energy modelling exercises and its applications. Collaborating to collect data, discuss key energy issues, and identify interventions are highly valuable to local stakeholders.
The process was instrumental in generating an understanding of energy planning. For some of municipalities, this was the first time consideration has been given to energy as a municipal function.
The modelling process acts as a strategic entry point to build interest and support for the project with municipal stakeholders. It also provides a useful platform and tool to engage around long-term planning and the implications of different actions. An example is infrastructural lock-in to emissions and energy intensive growth paths.
Value of the outputs
SAMSET is making an important knowledge contribution to the dynamics of sustainable energy transitions in African cities. Such research is of course made difficult by the data scarcity typical at a sub-national level. But this is merely reflective of the lack of financial investment to date.
The local data collection processes in this project have been vital in building capacity and generating awareness around urban energy systems. Developing new data and building knowledge of urban energy transitions in the global south is critically important. It has had a strong focus on establishing a network of both north-south and south-south practitioners to support more work in this arena.
The modelling has had to account for several distinct characteristics. These include:
- The informal economy
- Own energy generation through diesel and gasoline generators
- The high reliance on biomass
- Variations in urban forms and issues such as suppressed demand for energy services.
This project has also made important methodological contributions to modelling urban energy systems in developing countries.
- News24Wire, 06 October 2015Read more
Africa could generate nearly a quarter of its energy needs through the use of indigenous, clean, renewable energy by 2030, according to a new report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena). The report, entitled Africa 2030, finds that a combination of modern renewable technology could realistically meet 22% of Africa’s energy needs by 2030, a more than a fourfold increase from just 5% in 2013.
The report also finds that scaling up modern renewables in Africa is an affordable means to help meet fast-growing energy demand while increasing energy access, improving health and achieving sustainability goals.
“Africa holds some of the best renewable energy resources in the world in the form of biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar and wind,” said Irena director general Adnan Z Amin on Monday.
“This, combined with the precipitous drop in renewable energy technology costs, creates a massive opportunity for African countries to both transform and expand their energy systems while providing a pathway for low carbon economic growth.
“This is a game changer for African development for the future,” he told Fin24 in an interview at the SA International Renewable Energy Conference. “It raises the prospect of an indigenous, diverse energy system that gives you resilience, that lowers carbon, and that gives you self-sufficiency in energy.”
He warned African countries looking at a mixed energy source of renewables, oil, coal and nuclear to “retain all your options”.
“Create an enabling environment for indigenous energy resources based on renewables,” he said. “Develop robust policy frameworks and look for international engagement to lower the cost of financing.”
He said South Africans are leaders in Africa in modern renewables. “What they’ve been able to do with (the) renewables model… is really very impressive.
“It’s a model that can be replicated in other countries and it’s a model we intend to study more for its applicability for other countries.”
The report identifies nearly 10 exajoules – the equivalent of more than 341 megatonnes of coal – of options for sustainable development through renewable energy. Roughly 40% of this energy would be in the power sector.
Renewable energy capacity additions could increase the share of modern renewables in the power sector to 50% by 2030, reducing carbon dioxide emissions by more than 310 megatonnes, the report explains.