Wind energy conference leaves industry with a clear pathway toward achieving a greater share of renewables for South Africa
One of the predominant themes of Windaba 2016, Africa’s leading wind energy event held earlier this week in Cape Town, was what it would take to successfully achieve the energy transition needed to achieve South Africa’s commitment to the Paris Cop 21 agreement which was ratified this week.
“While we are aware of the challenges of necessary energy transition away from fossil fuel dependence, Windaba has provided many comparable examples of global experience of achieving decarbonisation without compromising economic growth, human wellbeing, or environmental sustainability,” said South African Wind Energy Association’s (SAWEA) incoming CEO Brenda Martin.
“This forum has once again offered industry members the opportunity to share best practice and to regain a shared vision for South Africa’s renewable power potential. While Eskom’s recent refusal to sign Round 4 bid winners’ Power Purchase Agreements has been perplexing to the sector, we are confident that Eskom will soon honour their legal obligations,” added Martin
During the event, SAWEA’s chair, Mark Pickering, highlighted that South Africa’s wind industry currently has R58 billion worth of projects fully funded and ready to contribute to national power supply, once power purchase agreements are signed.
At the event, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research’s (CSIR) Dr. Tobias Bischof-Niemz demonstrated a realistic picture of how South Africa could achieve 70% renewables by 2040, saving R90 billion per year compared to the business as usual scenario.
“The CSIR study suggests that it is conceivable that South Africa could achieve a significantly larger share of renewables by 2050, without compromising energy security. With recent events related to the REIPPPP, we have experienced some policy uncertainty which has directly impacted on communities waiting to realise economic benefits. But we are sure that the many jobs created, the manufacturing capacity and capital investments realised, the power produced and socio-economic benefits achieved by the REIPPPP in just 3 bid rounds, will not prove to have been short-lived. The South African Wind industry is deeply committed to achieving national long term energy security and socio-economic development. It is critical that momentum is not lost and that lessons learned thus far are built upon rather than squandered” stated Martin.
Seventy leading wind and renewable energy sector speakers participated in the event. They covered a broad range of wind and renewable energy-related themes, from policy to development to technical issues of renewable power supply under the over-arching theme - ‘Towards 100% renewables.’