Renewables council to present united voice
The newly launched South African Renewable Energy Council (Sarec) aims to consolidate the voices of the renewable-energy sector and present them to government and other stakeholders, as the country’s renewable-energy sector experiences unprecedented growth, says the council.
Sarec comprises the South African Photovoltaic Industry Association (Sapvia), the South African Wind Energy Association (Sawea), the Sustainable Energy Society of Southern Africa (Sessa) and the Southern African Solar Thermal and Electricity Association.
Sarec founding board member and Sapvia chairperson Davin Chown tells Engineering News that the council is well placed to facilitate communication between developers, independent power producers (IPPs), government and other social partners.
“The renewable-energy sector now needs to scale up its deployment of power projects and this requires some key changes to the legislative and regulatory environment in which we operate. We need to see the Independent Systems and Market Operator (ISMO) Bill make its way through the legislative processes . . . this will take a concerted effort on the part of industry and other role-players. That is where Sarec comes in – as an organisation with the purpose of making that effort,” he states.
Chown explains that the ISMO Bill is important in making the sector accessible to additional private-sector investment. He says: “The council will be that facilitator [to speak] to government with a unified voice, which is a key ingredient to building a climate of trust and confidence among the various social partners.
“Sarec will also help to focus IPP’s efforts more effectively and will enhance communication with government,” he elaborates.
Emphasising the council’s importance, Sarec chairperson and Sawea CEO Johan van den Berg says that, with the local renewable-energy sector growing fast, Sarec aims to ensure that the sector reaches its full potential, adding that government’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP) has been successful in ensuring that the potential is used.
“The country has the opportunity to build a large renewable- energy sector. Bloomberg’s ‘2012 New Energy Finance’ report states that, in 2012, renewable energy grew by 20 000% in South Africa. That will probably never happen anywhere else in the world again – it is unprecedented growth.
“What is most impressive about the IPP programme is that all the plants that were procured in the first two rounds in 2011 and 2012 have been built on time and at no cost to the South African tax- payer. So far, the country has avoided all the pitfalls experienced by other programmes and ensured that any additional costs incurred would not be at the expense of the State or the taxpayer,” he details.
Sarec board member representing Sessa Carryn Bateman tells Engineering News that the renewable-energy industry is well poised to enhance significant employment and wealth creation for poverty-stricken communities. She adds that government’s REIPPPP not only ensures employment and wealth creation, but also helps to boost the country’s strained power grid.
“South Africa‘s electricity system is constrained as the margin between peak demand and available electricity supply is very small. Best practice is to have a significant portion of excess capacity available in order to support plant maintenance and to be prepared for unforeseen outages and, more importantly, to support a growing economy,” Bateman elaborates.
Edited by: Megan Wait