The role of renewable energy in South Africa’s energy mix
Power utility Eskom has implemented regular power cuts this year to prevent the national grid being overwhelmed, as South Africa faces its worst energy crisis in decades, Public Enterprise MinisterLynne Brown said earlier this week, adding that power outages cost the country between $1.7-billion and $6.8-billion a month.
The solution to the energy crisis might be at home, as the country’s Renewable Energy IndependentPower Producer Procurement Programme was considered successful and combined the benefits of an auction-style programme with sufficient criteria to provide assurance that the projects were viable.
The combination of an excellent wind and solar resource, vast land availability, the country’s strong manufacturing capacity and an increasing commitment to renewable deployment from the government and financing institutions, made for an encouraging picture in the country. Concentrated solar power (CSP), in particular, stood out.
South Africa’s daily electricity demand has two peaks, one in the morning and another, more pronounced one, during the evening. This characteristic made CSP with storage the most suitable alternative among all renewable-energy sources for generating electricity to supply the evening peak demand.
Factors, such as the increasing energy demand, high electricity prices and limited proven oil reserves should hasten the implementation of CSP at a wider scale.
Despite the delays in the Department of Energy’s announcement schedule and other challenges, the South African market continued to generate great interest among international developers and financing institutions, which would meet at the CSP Today South Africa conference, in Cape Town, on April 15.
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Edited by: Chanel de Bruyn