SA’s successful renewables policy a blueprint for Africa – and the world

It is part of the human condition to invest more time analysing concerns rather than successes. This comes from our ancestral past where ignoring a rustling in long grass could shorten one’s life. I’ve heard psychologists claim that as a result of this inherited conditioning, mankind pays 10 times more attention to bad news than good. So there shouldn’t be any mystery why media always seems to focus on the negative – it’s what their customers demand. As a result, good things sometimes get lost in the negative noise. The Zuma Administration’s Renewable Energy programme is one of them. Calling it successful is to understate a groundbreaking approach now being replicated globally. It should be celebrated and supported. Not diluted by a dodgy idea to build an unaffordable fleet of nuclear plants. – Alec Hogg            

By Peroshni Govender

CAPE TOWN, Oct 6 (Reuters) – Africa should learn from South Africa’s renewable energy drive, which has led to a sharp drop in green power prices thanks to benign regulation and infrastructure investment, industry players said on Tuesday.

Four years since President Jacob Zuma’s government launched its renewable energy plan, it has fed over 1,000 MW of power into its strained system, which regularly plunges millions of homes into darkness and shaves about 1 percent of growth in Africa’s most industrialised economy.

Gouda wind facility_ Drakenstein Municipality_ Western Cape

“Africa is blessed with huge amounts of sun, wind and biomass and South Africa’s example of putting in stable regulation should inspire other countries to scale up its renewable energy production,” Christine Lins, the executive secretary at REN21, a green energy policy network told the South African International Renewable Energy Conference (SAIREC).

Read also: German Energy Minister Baake tells SA: Build your renewables – dump nuclear

About 30 African countries experience regular outages, costing their economies as much as 2 percent of GDP. The continent’s electricity needs grew by 80 percent since 2005, a report released by the International Renewable Agency (IRENA) at SAIREC said.

But energy generation companies say without a reliable policy, investment is risky.

“We need a regulatory framework that provides certainty that there will be a stable market,” Corne van de Wethuizen of Germany’s juwi Renewable Energies said.

Read also: Cooling down on the coal: Renewable energy projects for South Africa

“There needs to be certainty that the Power Purchase Agreements are backed for the entire duration to limit financial risks,” he said.

juwi has worked on several South African wind and solar projects which have to date attracted R192 billion ($14.17 billion) rand in investment for 92 plants.

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