South Africa is listed as the most industrialized country throughout the nation of Africa. For a long time, it has been very dependent upon conventional fuels, making the nation one of the largest emitters of greenhouse gases. Currently, fossil fuels provide around 70 percent of demand and accounts for around 90 percent of all the country’s power generation. South Africa has realized that they need to transition to more renewable energy sources. As a country with such abundant sunshine, attractive biomass feedstocks, and good wind regimes, South Africa has what it takes to deal with energy regeneration.
1) World’s Largest Solar Park to be Built in South Africa. In 2010, South Africa announced its plans to constructs the largest solar park in the world. Because the only rival to its solar power is California, South Africa has been spotted as one of the number one countries around with the intense possibilities of harnessing immense amounts of solar energy. According to CalFinder Solar, the solar park would “serve as a field test for emerging technologies in PV energy, concentrating photovoltaic PV and concentrating solar power, or CSP.” With more than 2,000 kilowatt hours of solar energy per each square meter of insolation, it is actually a better location than California for a large-scale project such as this one.
2) Clean Technology Fund Investment. In late 2010, the Clean Technology Fund, as part of the World Bank, made a plan to invest roughly $85 million into co-generation and renewable energy projects throughout South Africa. From this fund, $50 million would go toward projects revolving around solar and wind renewable energy, while the remaining $35 million would be put toward co-generation, where gasses and waste energy are used in the production of power throughout the country.
3) Sustainable Energy Society South Africa. In order to maintain the impact clean technology has had on South Africa, the Sustainable Energy Society South Africa group was formed. This group is “dedicated to the use of renewable energy and energy efficiency including all solar-based energies such as photovoltaics, thermal heating and cooling, wind, biomass, and hydro.” It is an interdisciplinary group with members from all fields, including industry officials, scientists, researchers, developers, as well as the general public. The mission of SESSA is “to promote and increase the use of renewable energy with informal education, demonstration and information dissemination to end-users and other decision makers of all levels.”
4) Global Leader in Renewable Energy Feed-in Tariffs. South Africa, to make the country more attractive in the field of clean technologies, created feed-in tariff rates higher than those in Germany and Ontario, Canada. The goal of the feed-in tariffs is to assist in increasing the generation of electricity from renewable sources up to 10 terrwatt hours per year by the time 2013 rolls around. The aim is to lower the dependence on coal, which supplies more than 90 percent of its total electricity.
5) Increasing Employment Opportunities. The Global Climate Network, an international research organization, indicated that the increase in the renewable energy sector throughout South Africa would create more than 36,000 direct jobs and over 109,000 indirect jobs by the year 2020. Furthermore, an estimated 700,000 individuals could find employment in the biofuels industry sector. The study stated, “Significant opportunities for employment lie in clean energy sectors and can be harnessed if the South African government scales up its renewable energy ambitions.”
6) Renewable Energy Policy Instruments. South Africa has a number of renewable energy policy instruments to assist with renewable energy legislations as well as policy objectives. There is the National Integrated Energy Plan which outlines the necessary steps that must be taken to assist South Africa in meeting its energy needs, The Renewable Energy Market Transformation, funded by the World Bank which aims to eliminate and reduce the costs of implementation of renewable energy technologies throughout the country, and the Renewable Energy Finance Subsidy Office, which mandates over renewable energy subsidies management, and provides advice to those inquiring about renewable energy subsidies and finance.
7) Increase in Grid Connected Renewable Energy Projects. There have been a number of projects put in place to increase connectivity to an electricity grid. This has included the Bethlehem Hydro project, Tongaat Hullet Sugar Biomass, Friedenheim Hydro, and the Eastern Cape Wind Farm.
8 ) Increase in Biofuel for Renewable Energy. South Africa has been part of a large plan to increase their biofuels industrial strategy. This biofuel plan was created to meet 75 percent of the target for renewable energy use as set up by the country, and in compliance with the international Kyoto Protocol. A majority of the crops used for biofuels will come from maize and sugarcane, which will be used in the creation of ethanol. Soya beans and sunflowers will also be utilized for the creation of biodiesel. Through this ambitious project, it is said that more than 55,000 jobs will be created, especially within the agricultural sector.
9) Increase in Renewable Energy Projects. At the end of 2010, South Africa has provided more than 20 gigawatts in new projects for renewable energy. Much of this has come from the feed-in tariff program set up by the South African government. There have been a number of investments made into solar and wind power technologies in the country with no end in sight.
10) Cleantech Goals. According to the government of South Africa, the goal of renewable energy projects, as outlined by the White Paper on Renewable Energy Policy in 2003, is to deliver the equivalent of 10,000 gigawatt hours by the year 2013 through the usage of wind, biomass, and solar resources. There has been the Darling wind farm as well as the Bethlehem hydro scheme to assist in reaching these goals. Through an institutional infrastructure for the various renewable energy projects, the government has been able to not only pursue economic growth within the cleantech sector but also protect their environment.
Article by Shawn Lesser, president and founder of Atlanta-based Sustainable World Capital, which is focused on fund-raising for private equity cleantech/sustainable funds, as well as private cleantech companies and M&A. He is also a co- founder of the GCCA Global Cleantech Cluster Association, and can be reached at email@example.com