South Africa’s renewable energy independent power producer programme has been a resounding success. Over the last three years, almost 4000MW of renewable power has been developed which is nothing short of impressive. However, there is still a great deal of work to be done, says Karen Breytenbach, Department of Energy, IPP office, South Africa, who spoke to Engerati at the Africa Energy Forum.
Reducing South Africa’s reliance on coal
While the country relies heavily on coal for its power, the minister of energy is planning to create a more robust and reliable energy mix. In the pipeline are plans for 2600MW of imported hydroelectricity from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Over the last eight months, South Africa has done a lot of work to pull the project together, says Breytenbach. “All the big Development Finance Institutions are involved, as well as the Africa Development Bank, European Investment Bank and the International Finance Corporation. This will be a big game changer for southern Africa.”
There are also plans to increase gas for energy consumption. According to Breytenbach, an Independent Power Producer gas programme will be put into place to help increase the volume. There are also plans to import gas, especially from Mozambique.
Increasing the renewable energy mix
By mixing solar, wind and gas, South Africa will have a more reliable power supply, explains Breytenbach. “While I don’t think we will ever be without coal for electricity, we do need a good mix of energy resources. We are also looking at ways of using coal more efficiently and also aim to reduce emission levels.”