Architecture firm Swisatec just announced plans to build a self-contained “Green Village” in Cape Town, South Africa that will be completely car-free and powered by solar energy. Taking up approximately 40 hectares of land, the village will contain 1,000 apartment units, as well as all the amenities its residents need to conduct their daily business, including doctors’ offices, boutiques, schools, and more.
The new Blue Rock Village isn’t going to be developed completely from scratch: instead, it’s an upgrade of the existing Blue Rock Resort, set beside an iconic Cape Town lake at a former quarry site. While cars won’t be needed to travel through the Village, residents still need to find a way to get there – it’s a half-hour drive to Cape Town proper. The development will include underground parking for residents, tucking their cars out of sight until they need to travel.
The apartments available range from one to four bedrooms, and will be made completely from eco-friendly and nontoxic materials. All appliances will be A++ rated energy efficient, and the units will be lit throughout with LEDs. The buildings even include features to manage water usage and will be able to run on self-generated solar power. Swisatec estimates the project will cost a staggering 14 billion rand, or $900 million US. Construction will start in September 2016.
By Deon Kallis, Cape Peninsula University of Technology and Wilfred Fritz
The need to move to solar energy seems a logical choice. Most areas in South Africa get around 2500 hours of sunshine per year.
The southern African region and the whole of Africa has sunshine throughout the year. The annual 24-hour global solar radiation averageis about 220W/m² for South Africa, compared with about 150W/m² for parts of the US, and about 100W/m² for Europe.
So, harnessing the sun as a source of energy has major benefits. There could be long-term economic sustainability, zero contribution to greenhouse emissions and less dependence on the electrical grid. It also cushions electricity tariff hikes for the poor and helps to create local industrie.
Ignoring this renewable source for the grid as well as for homes in radiation-rich countries, like South Africa, is short-sighted.
How to tap into the power of the sun
The technologies used to harness solar radiation can be divided into two categories – active systems and passive systems. Passive systems are used in building design to capture, store and distribute the solar energy through the use of building structures – windows, orientation, etc.
In active solar systems the solar radiation can be used for the direct or indirect heating of water through solar heaters as well as the direct generation of electrical energy (photovoltaic technologies) and indirect generation of electricity through concentrated solar power combined with electrical turbines.
The energy of a number of fully functional solar generation sources are currently being fed into South Africa’s electricity grid, including those derived from Photovoltaic and concentrated solar power.
By 2030, South Africa’s electricity plan hopes that 17.8GW, or 42% of the total electrical energy mix, will be allocated to renewable energy, including wind (8.4 GW), solar PV (8.4 GW) and concentrated solar power (one GW).
The case for standalone solar units
While there has been an increase in the use of solar technologies for overall electrical grid generation, there has been less progress in getting small-scale concentrated solar power-based technologies into homes.
The South African government’s national solar heater programme began in 2010 with the major objective being the reduction of demand on the electricity grid.
The programme targeted the installation of one million solar heaters by 2015 – with an additional four million units by 2030. To date, approximately 400,000 installations have been completed.
Another opportunity is offering households solar cookers. Around three billion people across the world cook and heat their homes using open fires and stoves burning biomass. As a result they are exposed to health damaging pollutants. If solar cookers were used even only for a few hours a day, it would make a huge difference.
The first documented use of solar for cooking purposes was made over 240 years ago. Although various designs have been in the market for the last 20 years, the uptake of these solar cookers has been slow. There are a number of reasons for this.
The most common solar cookers use a reflective paraboloid or dish to concentrate the solar radiation onto a focal point. Mild steel is commonly used in the manufacture of the collector and its supporting structure.
Collector sizes range from upwards of one metre in diameter – the larger the diameter the higher the temperature at the focal point. The manufacturing process involved in making the collector, coupled with the cost of the material, adds to the relatively high retail price of the unit. Alternative designs using so-called trough collectors are cheaper to manufacture but are not as efficient as paraboloid designs.
Traditional units have to be continuously monitored and adjusted by the user as the sun tracks across the sky – a tedious operation when one is concentrating on cooking. In addition, temperature control within these units is non-existent.
Since these cookers are seen as novelty items, their widespread availability is limited. In South Africa, conventional units can be bought via an online portal, not an ideal outlet if aimed at the off-grid market.
A new automated solar oven with a solar-powered generator has been designed. The device can be used off-the-grid. It can be used to boil water, cook food and generate electricity.
The new design addresses two key design challenges: it has an automated sun tracking controller. Its energy usage can be controlled. This enables the device to be used elsewhere – for example, in the sterilisation of portable water and medical instruments.
A conventional solar cooker needs to be positioned towards the sun to get the most solar radiation. This manual adjustment makes it difficult for the temperature to be controlled. This makes cooking certain meals, such as ones left to simmer, difficult.
The new design has two control systems. One tracks the position of the sun. The other ensures that the temperature of the cooking implement is in the range set by the user.
Timing options, timed cooking profiles and safety features have also been built in to reduce the possibility of accidental burns.
The prototype device was also used to provide electricity generation though the use of small PV panels and a heat engine.
The advances in design have been internationally recognised. Both contributors to this article and a group of five engineering students from Cape Peninsula University of Technology involved in the project won first prize in the 2015 International Automation Competition in the Environment and Renewable Energy category.
Cutting the cost
Plans are underway to develop the unit for commercialisation. The goal is to produce an automated mid-sized cooker (1.6-metre diameter) to sell for around US$120.
There are also plans to look at options for the device to be used for sterilising potable water and other heating applications. And it can also be used for producing electricity.
But in a spirit of making a difference to society, it is envisaged that the project team will engage with municipalities and non-governmental organisations for possible subsidisation of widescale use of these solar products in poorer communities not currently on the grid.
Dr. Wilfred Fritz is the team leader of the group that devised the automated solar cooker. Subsequently CPUT made funding available to develop the product for commercialisation. The next step is sourcing funding for mass production.
Deon Kallis is part of the team that devised the automated solar cooker and is involved in the current commercialisation of the unit.
Solar energy received a boost on Monday, when Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson announced a new power procurement project in the Northern Cape to deliver 1 500 MW of solar energy.
The additional procurement was a Department of Energy legacy project to mark the SA International Renewable Energy Conference taking place in Cape Town this week.
“It is a ministerial legacy project to ensure we remember this conference,” the minister told media after her opening address on Monday.
The announcement is the first step in a process that will seek bids from independent power producers (IPPs) and will likely only feed into the grid between 2019 and 2020.
Renewable energy is gaining steam both in South Africa and globally and SA’s IPP programme has been heralded as a success story.
With a target of 5 000 MW of solar energy and 5 000 MW of wind energy by 2030 in place, the IPP office has successfully attracted much-needed investment in the renewable energy sector.
In April, the minister approved 13 new renewable IPP bids, which means there will now be 79 IPP projects with 5 243 MW being added to a national grid desperately in need of power.
“To date, more than 6 000 MWh of electricity had been procured from 37 renewable-energy IPPs,” said Joemat-Pettersson.
“To date, renewable energy projects in South Africa have resulted in 20 000 jobs for South Africans and attracted R192.6bn in investment,” she said.
IPP office for Africa
Joemat-Pettersson said the IPP office mandate will come to an end in this month and will be reshaped to grow its level of influence in South African and in the broader continent.
“The IPP office is a success story that we would like to duplicate in other countries,” she said. “The reshaping of the office has started in earnest and will have a larger mandate.
“We would like to invite businesses and stakeholders to comment on what it is they appreciated in the office and what we could do better,” she said. “The success story is because we pulled together a sound group of skills, which allowed us to work effectively and efficiently to meet time frames.
“Policy certainty around the programme and integration with other demands has allowed the programme to be sustainable,” she said. “We must build on the success of this innovation, but look at transferring skills and technologies.”
The continent of Africa is shockingly short of electricity. Nearly 600 million people are without electricity altogether, while electricity consumption in Spain exceeds that of all of Sub-Saharan Africa, except South Africa.
Despite modest economic growth, countries in Africa could develop far faster and better with the help of electricity. So too could individual households. Africa’s poorest households are spending around US$10 kilowatts an hour on lighting – 20 times more than Africa’s richest households – and far more than people living in developed countries.
According to the Africa Progress Report 2015, it would take the average Tanzanian around eight years to consume as much electricity as an American does in one month.
But while the challenge may seem insurmountable, there’s plenty of hope to power up African countries, particularly through renewable energy.
According to the recent McKinsey ‘Brighter Africa’ report, the continent boasts 10 terawatts of potential energy capacity. It estimates much of this will come from solar, with a potential of 350 gigawatts of hydro, half of it anticipated from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
McKinsey has rated wind capacity at 109 GW. It expects geothermal to generate only 15 GW, but this will be extremely important for Ethiopia and Kenya, which hold 80% of the reserves.
Looking to the future, McKinsey forecasts that gas will account for more than 40% of the electricity generated from 2020 onward, with hydro remaining a very important technology.
Solar is expected to speed up further after 2030, representing 8% of the generation mix by 2040 and more than 30% of capacity additions between 2030 and 2040.
Coal will still be part of the energy mix, but its importance in the continent’s fuel mix will fade from 51% to 23%.
“One of the biggest challenges we have on the continent is that the planning doesn’t outlast the political office. Politicians want to be recogniSed, so they do short term projects which people can see before they leave office,” says Nelisiwe Magubane, former Director General of Energy and Chairman of Matleng Energy Solutions.
“We need to have planning that outlasts a political term.”
Senior energy consultant for Ngali Energin in Rwanda agrees: “If you’re expecting investors to put down billions, you have to put in place predictable tax regimes and stable regulations and make it practical to invest.”
The amount of money being ploughed into African megaprojects, particularly in energy and power distribution, increased by nearly 50% in 2014, according to a study by Deloitte. One of the most exciting projects was the Grand Inga Hydro Power Project, seen as a potential continental game changer. McKinsey estimates that the massive project could help save US$32 billion in capital spending and 65 megatons in carbon emissions.
“We are really excited that the DRC will house one of the largest hydro power projects in the world. The Grand Inga Hydro Power Project at 40 GW of hydro-electricity will bring closer the realiSation of Africa’s potential,” the acting CEO of Eskom, Brian Molefe recently told the PowerGen conference in Cape Town.
US President Barack Obama’s US$7 billion power plan, Power Africa, is also hoping to add 30 000 MW of new and cleaner power generation over a five-year period in several countries across the continent. Power Africa is working with technical and regulatory experts, governments and companies to boost electricity.
The Africa Progress Report, generated by the Africa Progress Panel headed by former UN Secretary General, Kofi Anan, suggests that the way forward is to build an integrated African grid, with sustainable energy at its core.
The International Energy Agency estimated that increased regional integration could cut average electricity costs by 8% on the continent and as much as 30% in some countries.
With a sharp drop in renewable technology prices, many energy planners are increasingly seeing the potential in renewable sources. Projects are dotted throughout Africa, from one of Africa’s largest wind farms in Ethiopia to a massive boost in hydro power in Angola.
Eight leading renewable energy projects in Africa
Kenya – Kenya is now the world’s ninth largest producer of geothermal energy. Plans envisage the doubling of capacity by the end of 2016 by expanding the Olkaria plant. Kenya is also moving ahead in developing its wind power resources.
Ethiopia – Ethiopia has tackled the impact of falling water levels in the dry season by moving into wind power. It now boasts one of Africa’s largest wind farms. The 120 MW, 84-turbine farm is 780 kilometres north of the capital of Addis Ababa.
Nigeria – Oil-rich Nigeria is scaling up its solar capacity. Agreements signed in 2014 and 2015 will take the country across the 5GW threshold. Nigeria is also in negotiations with a South Korea company, HQMC, about building another 10GW in capacity and establishing Africa’s first large-scale solar- panel manufacturing facility.
South Africa – South Africa has been recognised for one of the fastest rates of growth in the world for renewable energy investment through its Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement (REIPP) programme, with projects ranging from wind and solar PV to biogas.
Mauritania – Solar energy now powers a third of energy use in Nouakchott, the capital city of this West African country, and makes up 10% of the national grid. Plans are also underway to commission a 30MW wind farm, boosting the share of renewable energy in the national energy mix to 45%.
Democratic Republic of Congo – The Grand Inga hydro power project is forecast to double Africa’s electricity production capacity, making it the world’s largest infrastructure project.
Rwanda – Ignite Power is the first part of an ambitious plan aimed at achieving universal access to clean energy coverage in Rwanda. It brings together local and international organisations and has developed a template for connecting all households on and beyond the grid.
Ghana – The world’s fourth largest solar facility is under construction in western Ghana. The US$400 million Nzema solar project will include 630 000 solar modules generating 155MW of power. It will add 6% to Ghana’s overall power generation.
The Department of Energy (DoE) plans to launch its Solar Energy Technology Roadmap, which seeks to map solar technologies and the way these fit into South Africa’s long-term energy plan, before the International Renewable Energy Conference in October.
Speaking at a session at the Sustainable Energy Seminar, which formed part of Sustainability Week, DoE energy programmes and projects deputy DG Wolsey Barnard noted that the roadmap would form a focal point of the conference.
An initiative between the DoE, the South African National Energy Development Institute (Sanedi), the Department of Science and Technology, German development agency GIZ and the International Energy Agency, the roadmap was aimed at developing the local solar industry to 2050.
Planning for this programme started in 2010. Also speaking at the seminar, Sanedi Renewable Energy Centre of Research and Development manager Dr Karen Surridge-Talbot said the roadmap was currently before Parliament for approval.
“While we were working on it. . .we linked it to the Integrated Resources Plan, [which is] currently being updated. We have engaged with many government departments,” she noted, adding that this had allowed for the perspectives of all the departments to be gathered and incorporated into the roadmap.
“Essentially, this [roadmap] will be the plan for rolling out solar energy technology,” she said. The roadmap was expected to prove invaluable to the country, which faced major energy constraints but was sun-drenched.
Further, development of the solar sector would help reduce greenhouse-gas emissions associated with energy production, while creating more jobs in the country. In addition, as solar photovoltaic (PV) and solar water heating applications could be rolled out to households independently of the grid, these technologies could reduce demand on the grid in cities.
Further, these technologies could also contribute to meeting rural energy needs where many households were not connected to the national power grid. The roadmap would focus concentrated solar power (CSP), solar PV and solar thermal technologies, while drawing attention to research and development into hybrid technologies and solar fuels.
The draft roadmap estimated that 40 GW of PV and CSP capacity could be developed by 2050, while an additional 4 GW of solar water heating capacity could be installed. Meanwhile, Surridge-Talbot noted that Sanedi, after being approached by State-owned enterprise Eskom, was currently working on a charter that would allow interested parties to buy-in and fund carbon capture and storage research in future.
Follow Alive2Green on Social Media
Enel Green Power, a renewable energy company, has begun the construction of three new solar energy projects in South Africa. The country is becoming more interested in clean energy for economic and environmental purposes, and the three new projects will help South Africa make progress towards its sustainability goals. The three projects will produce a combined capacity of 231 megawatts and will represent a significant portion of South Africa’s renewable energy infrastructure.
Country aims to bring 313.5 megawatts of solar power online in the coming years
The new projects are part of a larger initiative from Enel Green Power that will involve the development of 313.5 megawatts of new solar capacity. The initiative was sparked by South Africa’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Program, which aims to support renewable energy developers and their projects. The three projects from Enel Green Power will be located in the Western Cape Province, the Northern Cape Province, and the Limpopo Province.
Energy projects will bolster local economies and help South Africa become more environmentally friendly
The first project, called Paleisheuwel, will generate approximately 82 megawatts of electrical power. The other two projects will produce 82.5 and 66 megawatts, respectively. These projects are expected to bolster activity in the local economy, providing jobs for those that need them and reducing the country’s need for foreign sources of energy. Enel Green Power has also been awarded a contract to build an 82.5 megawatt solar energy project, but construction on this project has not yet begun.
South Africa continues to pursue various types of clean energy
South Africa is home to a great deal of solar energy potential. The country’s exposure to solar radiation means that it could see significant economic benefits by focusing its efforts to support this form of renewable energy. The country is currently developing several clean energy projects in order to reduce its energy expenses and achieve its sustainability goals in the relatively near future. Among the forms of clean energy that South Africa is supporting, fuel cells have gained a significant degree of support.
Book your seat here.
Join the discussion here.
Follow Alive2Green on Social Media
The Renewable Energy Independent Power Producers Programme has started delivering financial benefits to the South African power sector and the economy on the whole, a recent study has shown.
A study by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) states that the 1.6 GW of wind and solar power capacity commissioned by the end of 2014 helped save more than $450 million. With the payments to these renewable energy projects through feed-in tariffs at around $390 million the net ‘profit’ to the economy from these project is over $60 million.
Electricity generated from 0.6 GW wind energy projects and 1 GW solar power projects replaced 1.07 TWh electricity from diesel-fired power plants and 1.12 TWh electricity from coal-fired power plants. Renewable energy projects have thus offset more than 2 million tonnes of CO2e emissions in 2014.
Under the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producers Programme (REIPPP) South Africa plans to source 10 TWh electricity from renewable energy projects based on a wide variety of technologies. Generation of this quantum of electricity would be generated from 3,725 MW capacity. The government plans to auction this capacity through competitive bidding.
1.85 GW of onshore wind energy capacity, and 1.45 GW of solar photovoltaic (PV) power capacity will be auctioned by the end of the programme. Other renewable energy technologies include concentrated solar thermal, biomass, biogas, small hydro, and landfill gas.
The net financial saving of over $60 million is an excellent advertisement for the South African renewable energy sector which may see a further boost once the government introduces the carbon tax policy. Companies that would be required to reduce greenhouse gas emissions under the carbon tax policy would be able to fulfil their obligations by generating offsets from renewable energy projects which, as shown by the CSIR, would bring in significant financial savings.
Book your seat here.
Follow Alive2Green on Social Media
Emira Property Fund has installed a R6 million solar farm on the roof of its Epsom Downs Shopping Centre in Bryanston, Sandton. This pilot project is Emira’s first step in adding renewable energy solutions to its quality portfolio of properties across South Africa, and part of its sustainability strategy.
The photovoltaic (PV) solar farm, comprising 1,084 panels, will produce around 271kWp, or about 30% of the electricity required by the shopping centre – the maximum possible with its roof size.
Emira’s state-of-the-art pilot project will save 515,172kWh of energy, and some 252,434kbs of coal, each year. At the same time it will reduce carbon emissions annually by approximately 503,838kgs. To put this in perspective, you would need to plant 458 new trees to offset these emissions.
Justin Bowen, Development Manager at Emira, comments: “For some time now Emira has explored ways renewable energy can reduce our carbon footprint. Now, with Nersa’s approved increase in Eskom’s tariff rate of some 13% this year, the financial viability for solar farms is becoming achievable.”
He adds: “We also recognise the strain on South Africa’s electrical supply and the new Epsom Downs solar farm responds to the call for energy users to reduce dependence on the national grid.”
Emira Property Fund is a JSE-listed REIT that is invested in a quality diversified portfolio of office, retail and industrial properties. Its assets comprise 148 properties valued at R12.5 billion. Emira is also internationally diversified through its direct interest in ASX-listed Growthpoint Properties Australia (GOZ), valued in excess of R700 million, with total assets now at R13 billion.
As a carbon disclosure company, Emira measures and monitors its carbon footprint. It is mindful of its environmental and social impacts and strives for sustainability in all key areas of its business.
Making the success and effectiveness of its pilot PV solar project easy to monitor, Emira’s head office is in the adjacent Epsom Downs Office Park.
Emira partnered with Bright Black Solar to supply and install the system, and its panels were specially imported. The solar farm only took six weeks to construct, but was six months in its planning and logistics stages.
While the installation was intended to reduce Emira’s carbon footprint, it has also resulted in other far-reaching benefits. “By taking strain off the power grid, Epsom Downs Shopping Centre is doing its bit to prevent load shedding, and we are sure its customers and neighbours appreciate this.”
Bowen believes South Africa could see a greater move towards more on-site renewable energy reduction in the near future. “In the light of the national power crisis, renewable energy, and specifically PV, could improve the amount of power required on the national grid. We foresee a trend towards renewables growing rapidly over the next few years.”
Source: Press Release
Follow Alive2Green on Social Media
South African hotels are making efforts to preserve and protect the planet by utilizing and promoting green practices. To help you get your green 2015 started, here is a list of the best eco-friendly hotels in South Africa.
1. Go green in Cape Town
If you are looking for affordable accommodation in Cape Town, book your stay at The Backpack. This trendy backpackers is located in the heart of the city and uses a range of eco-friendly practices from solar heating, to aerated taps and worm farms!
2. Enjoy the best of the Wild Coast
Bulungula Lodge is an exceptional eco-lodge / backpackers located off the beaten track along the Wild Coast. The lodge is not only invested in eco-friendly practices, powered entirely by solar energy, but is also owned and managed by the surrounding Nqileni village. The lodge overlooks one of the most spectacular remote beaches in the Wild Coast and nature lovers should not miss the chance to stay here.
3. Hideaway in the mountains
Located high in the Monk’s Cowl Reserve of the Central Drakensberg, iKhayalamafu (meaning House in the Clouds) offers you a slice of heaven. This eco-estate generates all its power from solar energy and hydro-generation; there isn’t a single electric line in sight to spoil the seamless views of the mountains. iKhayalamafu is dedicated to protecting the surrounding indigenous forests by removing all alien plants from the property. The estate is self-sufficient in honey and vegetables and has no fences on its boundary with a World Heritage Site, meaning that wildlife is free to roam.
4. View the world from tree tops
View the world from up among the trees at Teniqua Treetops. Situated in the foothills of the Outeniqua Mountains along the Western Cape’s Garden Route, Teniqua Treetops is a tented tree house resort offering eco accommodation. Surrounded by indigenous forest, the self-catering tree houses use natural products and materials in their construction and functionality. The lodge harvests rain water and uses dry toilet systems to ensure minimum impact on the environment.
5. Go eco-chic in Gauteng
The Peech is a boutique hotel in Johannesburg that aims to have as small an impact on the environment as possible. The Peech is Fair Trade Tourism certified and its eco-friendly practices include recycling, energy conservation through solar water heating and green design to ensure that the hotel’s carbon footprint is kept to a minimum. The hotel also supports a range of community organisations, including Little Eden and Pack for a Purpose.
6. Tread gently in Kruger
Rhino Walking Safaris has two camps, Plains Camp and Rhino Post Safari Lodge, that lie within a private wilderness concession just north of Skukuza in the Kruger National Park, offering exclusive walking trails and game drive safaris. The camps are built on stilts using natural materials of stone, wood, thatch and canvas and use absolutely no concrete to minimise the environmental impact. Rhino Walking Safaris has an ongoing recycling system and uses a special indigenous Reedbed System to process bathroom waste.
7. Go off the grid in Umlani
The Umlani Bushcamp is another classic African safari camp that is situated in the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve in the Kruger National Park. The comfortable eco-lodge is Fair Trade Tourism certified and is powered by solar energy. Each hut in the camp is lit by candlelight and oil lamps and the open-bush showers are fuelled by wood fires. Getting back to nature has never been more romantic.
8. Experience green efficiency in Umhlanga
Overlooking the iconic Umhlanga lighthouse, the Oyster Box Hotel was built with a lot of care to make the hotel as green as possible. The hotel has implemented a number of green practises including solar power generation, grey water recycling and rain water harvesting. The hotel also reuses heat expelled from the air conditioning system to heat its swimming pools. The hotel has everything from energy efficient lights to a sophisticated building management system for maximum energy efficiency at all times.
9. Have an eco-treat in Plettenberg Bay
Situated on the edge of the Tsitsikamma Forest and surrounded by valleys and mountains, the views from the Hog Hollow Country Lodge are a treat to the senses. The lodge not only protects the environment with its ongoing recycling programme and responsible energy consumption practices, but also supports the community by filling all staff positions locally from Kurland Village.
10. Get carbon-neutral
Located in the airport industrial area of Cape Town, Hotel Verde has an impressive green stamp, which is why this hotel just had to be on our list. The hotel is located between car rental parking lots and industrial warehouses, but goes above and beyond to reduce its carbon footprint. With wind turbines, a grey water recycling plant and an electric airport shuttle, Hotel Verde is one of Africa’s greenest hotel projects.
Source: SA Good News
Book your seat here.
Follow Alive2Green on Social Media
Renewable energy has benefited South Africa, a study by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has found.
The independent study by the CSIR found that renewable energy from the country’s first wind and solar (photovoltaic) projects created R8 million more financial benefits for the country than they cost during 2014.
The study was conducted against the backdrop of the Department of Energy running its procurement programme to expand the generation capacity in the country. It has already procured close to 4 000 MW of renewable capacity (mainly wind and solar) from independent power producers (IPPs).
According to the chief engineer at the Integrated Energy Research Centre at the CSIR, Dr Tobias Bischof-Niemz, the study was based on actual hourly production data for the different supply categories of the power system.
“The benefits earned were two-fold. The first benefit, derived from diesel and coal fuel cost savings, is pinned at R3.7 billion. This is because 2.2 terawatt-hours of wind and solar energy replaced the electricity that would have otherwise been generated from diesel and coal.”
The second benefit of R1.6 billion is a saving to the economy derived from almost 120 hours of so-called “unserved energy” that were avoided thanks to the contribution of the wind and solar projects. During these hours the supply situation was so tight that some customers’ energy supply would have had to be curtailed (“unserved”) if it had not been for the renewables.
“Therefore, renewables contributed benefits of R5.3 billion in total (or R2.42 per kWh of renewable energy), while the tariff payments to independent power producers of the first wind and photovoltaic (PV) projects were only R4.5 billion (or R2.08 per kWh of renewable energy), leaving a net benefit of R0.8 billion,” said the CSIR.
“We’ve developed a methodology at the CSIR Energy Centre to determine whether at any given hour of the year renewables have replaced coal or diesel generators, or whether they have even prevented so-called ‘unserved energy’,” said Bischof-Niemz.
This CSIR methodology was fed with cost assumptions from publicly available sources, such as power utility Eskom’s interim financial results 2014 for coal and diesel costs, or the Department of Energy’s publications on the average tariffs of the first renewables projects, or the Integrated Resource Plan on the cost of unserved energy.
“Our study shows that in 2014, renewable energy provided a net financial benefit to the country. Without the first solar and wind projects, we would have spent significant additional amounts on diesel, and energy would have had to be “unserved” during approximately 120 additional hours in 2014,” said Bischof-Niemz.
“What is more, the cost per kWh of renewable energy for new projects is now well below R1 for solar PV and between 60c – 80c for wind projects. That will keep the net financial benefits of renewables positive, even in a future with a less constrained power system,” he added.
The CSIR is one of the leading scientific and technology research, development and implementation organisations in Africa.
Book your seat here.