Renewable energy must continue to take centre stage in energy planning By Tim Davidson

JG Afrika





It is imperative that South Africa prioritise renewable energy (RE). The country is now a leading investment destination on the continent for European RE technology specialists. Tim Davidson, a technical director who has participated in many related projects in the country, shares his insights.

We have worked with many international renewable energy technology specialists in various capacities on prominent solar and wind projects under the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPP).

I can attest to their global experience, which has been instrumental in helping South Africa introduce important clean and sustainable energy to its national grid, which still relies heavily on fossil fuels.

Importantly, there has also been significant scope for skills transfer between both South African and international players in the implementation stages of these projects.

Both European and South African participants underwent a very steep, but critical learning curve during the earlier phases of the programme.

These were important lessons that have led to further, stronger linkages between international technology companies and local developers, as well as their professional teams.

This bodes well for future planning and execution of sustainable energy projects in South Africa. We can only expect smoother implementation of these projects moving forward, starting with the much-anticipated fourth window of the REIPPP.

This window offers immense opportunity for the country to build on its “green” energy development agenda. This is considering that it involves 26 preferred bidders across a host of clean energy generation technologies, and represents R50-billion in investment into South Africa.
Importantly, it also mirrors the rich diversity of fuel sources available to South African energy planners to sufficiently diversify the country’s energy mix.

For example, this window introduces more biomass to the country’s national grid, complementing the major steps South Africa has already taken in developing its capacities in solar and wind in the earlier stages of the REIPPP.

This includes those projects using wood-waste to produce electricity, or other forms of energy.
JG Afrika has already engaged Scandinavian investors and developers of this important base-load power. These international experts in the field have identified a lot of future potential for biomass in the country, considering South Africa’s own developed and sophisticated forestry industry.

We have gained a head-start in this maturing waste-to-gas market, complementing our already proven capability in solar and wind projects in various capacities.

Keep in mind our extensive involvement in the first large-scale waste-to-energy plant in Africa that started operating in Athlone, Western Cape, earlier this year.

I remain extremely proud of our past involvement in helping South Africa secure a sustainable future that is in line with the growing international “green” consciousness.