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Proposed increase in SA’s solar renewable energy

Proposed increase in SA’s solar renewable energy

Mar 10, 2014

28 February 2014 ~ A key revision outlined in South Africa’s draft Integrated Resource Plan (Update report 2013), is the proposed substantial increase in solar renewable energy capacity, both Photovoltaic (PV) and Concentrated Solar Power (CSP).  If implemented, this revision would considerably boost green energy supplies in the country.

The draft IRP revision proposes that the PV allocation be increased by 1330 MW, while CSP allocation, which to date has only been given a low MW capacity, be increased by a substantial 2100 MW.  The increased solar energy allocation, would of course contribute to alleviating the country’s inconsistent, unreliable power supply.  However, as importantly, the proposed revisions would help decrease the country’s carbon emissions.

Green energy
“A marked increase in solar renewable energy allocation would help reduce carbon emissions in a country which has one of the highest carbon emissions worldwide, and in so doing contribute to a much needed green environment.  This would be a particularly positive spin-off and of tremendous benefit to South Africa,” says Bradley Hemphill, Managing Director of EES, an ISO 9001:2008 professional engineering and management company.  EES has played a significant role in the implementation of solar renewable energy in South Africa to date.

The closing date for comments on the draft from renewable energy industry players was 7 February 2014.  The comments received are currently being used to compile a final draft to be submitted to Cabinet in March 2014.  Following Cabinet endorsement, the approved document will be promulgated.

The draft IRP revision is an initiative of the Department of Energy’s (DoE’s) Renewable Energy Independent Power Producers Procurement Programme (REIPPPP).  The REIPPPP, which has been underway since 2010 and has made significant strides in renewable energy, is part of South Africa’s national strategy to introduce up to 17800 MW of renewable energy by 2030.  With the addition of the 17 projects in the third bidding round, South Africa now has 64 approved REIPPPP projects with a collective capacity of 3933 MW.

Reducing carbon emissions
According to the SA Solar Energy Technology Roadmap (SETR) draft (October 2013): “As South Africa is one of the leading carbon emitting nations in the world, increasing the solar energy content within the national energy mix will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) from the country.”

Carbon emission is a problem with regard to the country’s traditional coal-fired power, which currently supplies most of the country’s energy.  Solar renewable energy emits no carbon.

“South Africa has made a number of international commitments to reduce its carbon emissions.  For example, under the agreement in the Copenhagen Accord (2009), the country committed to reducing its green house gas emissions to 34% below its ‘business-as-usual’ growth trajectory by 2020,” says James Ricketts, Project Manager for EES. ” It is also committed to achieving the Millenium Development Goals (United Nations, 2000), which target environmental sustainability.”

In South Africa the mandate for a green economy derives from the country’s constitution and the country has a number of policies in place to implement the green economy.  The National Development Plan (NDP), for example, is very specific about goals and a key focus is on energy and carbon, because greenhouse emissions are expected to peak in 2025.

“The National Planning Committee presented the NDP to South Africa in November 2011.  The NDP’s main focus was reportedly reducing the country’s carbon emissions to a sustainable level by adopting adaptation and mitigation policies,” Ricketts continues.

Hemphill concludes: “Increased independent renewable energy production in the national electricity grid would certainly put the country in an improved position in terms of its carbon emissions.  This would have far-reaching, very valuable, tangible benefits for the country.  The implementation of the increased allocations is a move to be wholeheartedly encouraged and supported.”

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