The world is changing fast and to keep up you need local knowledge with global context.
CAPE TOWN — The Chinese use two brush strokes to write the word ‘crisis’. One brush stroke stands for danger; the other for opportunity – which can be elegantly applied to Eskom’s dysfunction right now. In yet another injection of life-giving hope to the endangered and corruption-traumatised national psyche, the Development Bank of Southern Africa, is investing big-time in renewable energy projects, the aim being to have embedded “green” energy contributing 11.5% of total renewable energy capacity by 2030. The DBSA $200m shot-in-the-arm to the Embedded Generation Investment Program, involves helping 10 proof of concept projects more easily attract commercial financing. We’ve seen how powerful a force for societal good and course-correction banks in South Africa can be (if only to protect themselves), first by closing down the Gupta’s accounts and then the Watsons. Some of the big banks are refusing to finance coal-fired power plants, helping bring South Africa kicking and screaming into globally-accepted diversified sources of generation. Increasingly it seems, the nightmare is ending, even if we had to first wake up and smell the dimly-lit open cesspit. – Chris Bateman
The financier will funnel $200m into the Embedded Generation Investment Program to kick start developments that will add 330 megawatts of new generating capacity to the national grid and reduce carbon emissions. Half of the funding will be provided by the Green Climate Fund, the Johannesburg-based financier said in an emailed statement.
While the DBSA’s investments will get initiatives off the ground, the goal is to create projects that commercial lenders will want to fund to completion, said Mohale Rakgate, the group executive responsible for project preparation. The projects will need to attract at least $104m more from local banks in their initial phases, he said.
“We have a pipeline of more than 10 projects,” Rakgate said. “We want to take the first steps, prove the concepts work” and get commercial financing, he said, adding that “attracting private funding is really at the core of what we are doing.”
South Africa aims to have embedded generation contribute 2,600 megawatts to the country’s renewable energy capacity, representing an 11.5% slice, by 2030 and is rekindling enthusiasm for green alternatives to keep the nation’s lights on. The country’s debt-laden utility Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. has been forced to cut power in recent weeks as it cannot afford to maintain its coal-fired plants.
“This is in line with a global trend that has been happening in the US and Europe. South Africa is just catching up on the renewable trend of how power is now generated by diversifying sources of generation,” Rakgate said.
Nedbank Group Ltd. is already shunning coal-fired projects, with the Johannesburg-based lender saying last month it will no longer provide project financing or other forms of asset-specific financing where the proceeds will be used to develop plants using the fuel, regardless of the country or technology.
The DBSA will launch the program after the country’s revised Integrated Resource Plan is approved by the government and will also allocate some of the funding to black empowerment schemes, it said.