As concerns around energy security in South Africa grow, so does it for the rest of the continent, where access to energy plagues close to 1 billion people in Sub-Saharan Africa alone. It is therefore befitting that this year’s Windaba conference will bring together industry leaders, investors, power producers and pioneers to discuss ways in which wind power can be unleashed to address South Africa’s economic development and that of the countries north of our borders.
Themed, ‘Unleashing Renewable Power for African Economic Development’, this year’s event will evaluate wind energy’s role in ensuring economic development and how releasing the remaining constraints to growth can lead to greater social and economic impacts.
Recent data released by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) shows that renewable energy capacity has grown in all regions of the world, emerging and developing economies included. Africa’s 8.4 per cent growth put it in third place and it is no wonder that many South African wind power industry players are already au fait with the landscape.
South Africa is a front runner in Sub-Saharan Africa when it comes to the wind industry and has much to gain from expanding its markets. This would shore up the local manufacturing sector, thereby creating long-term sustainable employment opportunities. Furthermore, this will have the potential to contribute to the country’s green economy objectives and objectives of the National Development Plan, all of which hinge on a coordinated supportive policy environment that supports a smooth power procurement as part of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REI4P).
“With the promising development of the Integrated Resource Plant potentially leading to continuous smooth procurement, coupled with the potential capacity to expand and build a supply chain locally, South Africa is poised to serve the Sub-Sahara. Furthermore, South Africa has become a centre of competence for project development and is geared to spread beyond borders,” commented Janek Winand, Managing Director of Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy in South Africa, who will be speaking at this year’s Windaba conference.
“REI4P continues to be the most exciting wind energy opportunity globally. Many countries are looking to learn from SA’s experience and leapfrog to the next development level. It is the innovative technology that the African power sector needs,” commented Mercia Grimbeek, Chair of the South African Wind Energy Association (SAWEA).
It is anticipated that the next competitive auction for renewable energy in South Africa will be announced by the second half of 2019, following a positive start to the year, which saw government renewing its commitment to growing this sector as part of the country’s sustainable energy mix.
“2019 has kicked off on a positive note for the renewable energy industry but, although the future of wind energy looks bright, there is much that the industry collectively still needs to achieve to consolidate its position and deliver on the many benefits it promises economically, socially and environmentally. We believe that it is within our grasp to secure the generation of affordable, sustainable and reliable power in Africa,” concluded Grimbeek.
The 9th annual Windaba Conference and Exhibition will take place on 8-9 October 2019 in Cape Town, at the CTICC. This year, for the first time, Windaba will expand its focus to include the whole of Sub-Saharan Africa and will be looking to share the lessons that South Africa has gained from its world-renowned REI4P with the broader continent.
For further information: https://www.windaba.co.za/
WHAT the world bank says about Energy Security in Africa:
- The world is not moving fast enough to reach its universal electricity access goal by 2030. A substantial acceleration of efforts and investments are needed to achieve this objective.
- While nearly 1 billion people in Sub-Saharan Africa alone may gain electricity access by 2040, an estimated 530 million will still not have electricity access due to population growth.
- Energy is inextricably linked to every other critical sustainable development challenge – health, education, food security, gender equality, poverty reduction, employment, and climate change, to name a few. That is why meeting universal electricity access is essential to reaching other 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
- In many countries with low levels of electricity access, both grid (traditional power lines) and off-grid solutions (solar mini and micro grids) are vital for achieving universal access – but they must be supported by an enabling environment with the right policies, institutions, strategic planning, regulations, and incentives.
- Rapidly decreasing costs for renewable energy technologies such as solar, and a focus on energy efficiency measures can help countries expand access to energy for their people.
- Innovative energy service delivery mechanisms offer new opportunities for private sector-driven off-grid electrification and accelerating universal electricity access, but only if countries can create the right environment for them to be replicated and scaled up.