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The South African Wind Energy Association (Sawea) has issued a statement calling for the release of an updated Integrated Resource Plan (IRP). “It provides a clear technology roadmap that is essential to confirming investor certainty to 2050. Such certainty is particularly important for growing job-creation prospects in South Africa’s renewable-energy manufacturing sector,” the organisation said.

Wind and solar energySawea says that the IRP should be based on a cost-optimal build and technology mix in support of socioeconomic development and environmental sustainability, given South Africa’s enormous socioeconomic challenges. “As we have seen over the past two years in particular, where the lack of an updated IRP has been cited as one of the reasons for stalling renewable power procurement, job loss effects have been felt most directly in South Africa’s renewable manufacturing sector,” adds Sawea CEO Brenda Martin.

Following the conclusion of the Power Purchase Agreements last month, Martin says the renewable energy industry has begun the task of preparing for resumption of the national procurement programme, starting with “ensuring that all parts of the value chain are ready and able to embark effectively on equipment manufacture and supply, construction and rural community engagement”.

Martin adds that South Africa is at a key stage of the national energy transition. “There is plentiful wind and solar power resources to strengthen the power mix, along with clear evidence that renewable power costs are competitive with that of new coal. South Africa is also behind on achieving its climate change commitments and it is in the midst of a major water crisis in several provinces. A well-timed public consultation process that results in a clear investment roadmap before the end of 2018 would go a long way to boost both public and investor confidence at this time,” she says.

This sentiment is echoed by World Wide Fund for Nature's (WWF) Renewable Energy: Facts and Figures 2017 report, which states that South Africa's wind energy potential alone is 6 700GW if wind farms had to be installed across the country, except in exclusion zones such as national parks and settled areas. However, data from Greenbyte, a renewable energy management systems manufacturer, indicates that South Africa is lagging behind other emerging economies such as China in renewables. China currently has 188 232MW of wind power capacity and 106 921MW of solar energy capacity compared to South Africa’s 2 094MW of wind and 1 450MW of solar capacity.

Image credit: Copyright: artjazz / 123RF Stock Photo

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