The country’s renewable energy procurement programme (REIPPPP) has procured thousands of megawatts (MW) in the last three years at increasingly competitive rates with more in the pipeline. Many turbines are already providing power to the grid. Local content levels have been near 50% with the result that there are huge spin-offs in the supply chain to a wide variety of large and small South African companies and also individuals, boosting the flagging economy. The obstacle to filling the energy gap with renewable energy is timing.
Frank Spencer, Chair of SAWEA’s Technical Working Group and speaker at WINDaba explains: “The disparity between the success of the REIPPPP and the energy shortage of the country relates to the time energy is generated versus the time at which it is most in need.”
“Wind plants often deliver energy during peak periods but are obviously dependent on the wind blowing. Solar photovoltaic plants deliver their maximum output around the middle of the day. Solar Thermal power can be stored, but the construction time for such plants is longer than for the aforementioned technologies and there is some work to do in bringing down costs.”
The solution is to maximise the energy output from renewable sources to impact the grid at peak times. Alongside commercial-scale renewable power plants there is huge potential for small scale technologies to relieve pressure on the grid. “We have one of the best climates in the world for solar energy and the potential to install millions of solar water heaters at very affordable rates in a short period of time. Letting sun heat our water instead of diesel will drop the electricity demand curve over the entire course of the day so that we won’t need to use diesel peaking plants as often,” says Spencer.
Rooftop Solar PV can store power in batteries to feed back into the grid during peak hours at significantly less than the cost of power generated from peaking plants. “Solar water heaters and solar rooftop can address the bulk of the peaking problem and utility scale wind and solar (both PV and solar Thermal) will deliver the extra capacity required. This is how we can resolve our energy shortage while boosting local manufacturing and job creation and enabling the economic growth envisioned in the National Development Plan,” concludes Van den Berg.
WINDaba is Africa’s largest Wind Energy platform hosted by the South African Wind Energy Association (SAWEA) in proud partnership with the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC).
To book your delegate participation at WINDaba please visit www.windaba.co.za or contact 021 448 5226