To supply only 25% of South Africa’s electrical needs with renewable energy is an exceptionally reasonable task. South Africa has ample capacity for both large scale solar plants and wind-power plants. The challenge lies in impressing this fact in the minds of the policy makers that seems to be stuck in the old ways of thinking. In the same way that apartheid is over, it is time to move on and embrace the future of clean renewable energy.
The South African Wind Energy Association (Sawea) has called on the government to set an ambitious 25% renewable energy contribution to electricity consumption by 2025.
The industry’s call for a bigger contribution of renewable energy is an indication of the lobbying likely to characterise the IRP2 process, with representatives of the various energy technologies vying for a bigger share of the energy industry. The process will cover 25 years. SA’s current target is for a 10000Gwh contribution of renewable energy by 2013.
Sawea said its research showed renewable energy could provide 100TWh of electricity, or 25% of SA’s consumption, by 2025. The bulk of this would be delivered by wind energy. The association said wind energy could contribute 80% of the 100TWh. The development of this renewable resource would create up to 40000 jobs, it said.
The industry has also moved to counter criticism that renewable energy is unreliable. “Not in our view,” said Davin Chown, director of Mainstream Renewable Power. The association said wind was a predictable resource. Modern international forecasting methods enable system operators to predict the available wind and solar resources between 24 hours and 72 hours ahead.
If a nuclear power station brought down by a stray bolt doesn’t meet the definition of base-load power. By comparison, the outage of one wind turbine due to a technical fault will barely dent overall supply.
“One 1000MW coal station competes with 125000 homes annually for access to running water. Wind power does not need water. Without this investment in renewable energy, SA will not meet its commitment to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 34% by 2020,” Tanton said.( Mark Tanton – deputy chairman of SAWEA)