South Africa aims for another 1,100 MW of wind energy, solar power

South Africa aims to increase its installed renewable energy capacity to 9,600 megawatts (MW) by 2030 from just 1,600 MW now, out of a total capacity of 44,175 MW.



South Africa will build 13 renewable projects to supply an extra 1,121 megawatts of electricity, the energy minister said, in a bid to ease power cuts in Africa’s most advanced economy.

Power utility Eskom cut power for the sixth straight day on Friday, as it grapples with one of its worst power outages in years. Renewable projects are seen as a quick way to add extra power compared with building new power stations.

Energy minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson said in a statement she expects the financing for the green power projects run by independent power producers to be finalised by the fourth quarter of this year and construction would start thereafter.

Including the latest projects, a total of 79 renewable energy projects with a capacity of 5,243 MW have been approved for construction at a cost of 168 billion rand ($14.05 billion), the minister said.

She said apart from tapping the additional power, the new projects would also increase the role of the independent power producers to electricity supply and widen power supply options in a country where the lion’s share of power is coal based.

The minister said the government would seek a further 6,300 MW of renewable energy from private producers but did not provide details and time-frames of the venture.

The electricity generated would come from wind, photovoltaic, biomass and small scale hydro-electric plants.

With year-round sunshine and thousands of miles of windswept coast in South Africa, investors are warming to the renewable energy potential, with several projects completed or underway since the government launched a first bid round four years ago.