Solar energy and wind power in South Africa

South Africa needs more electricity every year. As the economy grows, there are renewed calls for alternative energy resources to help generate the electricity needed to support the country’s infrastructure development.

This is one area of focus for Siemens, and the company is rolling out a strategy for its renewable energy technologies in Africa, in which SA will be a major hub in the supply of wind and solar power to the continent.

Ute Menikheim, the head of Siemens Energy, says Siemens SA will serve as the centre of competence for wind power to Africa and the Middle East. It will have the engineering expertise and the capacity to focus on local skills development, entering into local partnerships for the manufacture of different components.

A similar approach will be applied to its concentrated solar power (CSP) business, as Siemens believes Concentrating Solar Power will play a big role in supporting government’s focus on job creation through the maximisation of local content.

Siemens is already a leader in the fossil power generation market and is currently providing equipment to most of Eskom’s coal-fired power stations. These include turbines and transformers, as well as control and instrumentation equipment. "Siemens is committed to giving the same level of service to our renewable energy partners to help grow the local market," she says.

Dwindling resources, climate change and the fast-growing demand for energy – which is caused by demographic changes and urbanisation – are the main challenges for ensuring sustainable energy supplies.

"Though we expect significant growth in the renewable energies market, traditional fossil-fired power generation will continue to be the major source of global power supply in the future," says Menikheim.

That is why Siemens is also investing in technologies such as high energy efficient gas turbines to make fossil-fired power generation cleaner, as well as high-voltage transmission technologies to transport electricity across long distances efficiently and with minimal losses.

"More than 550m Africans lack access to electricity and we need to ensure that we have the right mix of technologies to develop a reliable and sustainable power network on the continent," she says.