South Africa is wasting its renewable energy potential
Although South Africa is the country with the most potential “by far” in terms of its renewable energy programmes, it is stuck in the “(Fitfully) Waking Giant” category, financialservices provider Fieldstone Africa said in its first renewables index for 2017.
When the Fieldstone Africa Renewables Index (FARI) was introduced, South Africa was the leading country on the continent in terms of its renewable energy programme. The index ranks national markets in terms of current suitability to invest time and capital to achieve successful renewable projects.
However, the country’s reputation and position on the index began slipping due to the refusal by energy utility Eskom to sign further power purchasing agreements (PPAs) with independent power producers (IPPs).
PPAs for IPP projects selected in rounds 4 and 4.5 of the government’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Produce Procurement Programme (REIPPPP), have remained unsigned for several months, seriously denting investor confidence in a highly successful programme.
“This has changed somewhat over the last two months, with President Jacob Zuma announcing in his State of The Nation address, in February, that the PPAs will be signed. However, Eskom is now trying to have old coal plants decommissioned against additional renewables and is threatening to call in the government guarantee provisions for existing IPPs,” the report read.
These issues aside, South Africa’s potential remains high. The country could rocket back to the top of the index, based on its Independent Resource Plan as it currently stands, which calls for the addition of 1 000 MW of renewable energy a year for several years. One positive development is that some small IPPs have been fast-tracked and the long-outstanding Round 4 bids seem likely to be given the go-ahead.
Meanwhile, Morocco still leads the continent in renewable energy, owing to pioneering efforts in renewable base load resulting from its commitment to concentrated solarpower (CSP).
In the October 2016 FARI, Morocco was rated the top country in Africa, followed by Uganda and Egypt.However, Zambia has now pipped Egypt to third place owing to its solar and hydro initiatives.