The search for alternatives to traditional power sources is gaining currency in SA, writes Steven van Hemert
Jan 25, 2010 11:42 PM | By Steven van Hemert
The Western Cape government is leading the country in exploring alternative sources for power generation. After the region was identified as being highly susceptible to the negative effects of climate change an action plan to mitigate these effects was launched.
THE ANSWER, MY FRIEND: Wind turbines at Eskom’s experimental facility at Klipheuwel in the Western Cape Picture: WARRENSKI
Key to the strategy is minimising the carbon foot-print of the province, with a plan to produce 1172MW of new renewable energy capacity by 2014, mainly from wind.
Eskom’s grand plan for generating extra capacity currently focuses on two new coal-powered plants in the north of the country, at a substantial cost to consumers and the environment. While the National Energy Regulator of SA deliberates over how exactly to fund these new base-load developments, independent power producers (IPPs) are gearing up to provide a cleaner and more environmentally and economically friendly alternative.
Nersa’s Renewable Energy Feed-In Programme (Refit), announced late last year, offers generous tariffs for green IPPs to feed power into the national grid. The tariffs have pleased potential investors and environmental campaigners. IPPs can now sign power purchase agreements for a period of 20 years, with wind power producers receiving an initial sum of R1.25 per kilowatt hour. Power will be purchased by the Renewable Energy Purchasing Agency, which falls under the authority of Eskom.
Investors such as the Mainstream Genesis Eco-Energy joint venture have said they would aim to add about 500MW of capacity by 2014, with wind farms located in Jeffreys Bay, Colesberg and on the West Coast. There is also scope for IPPs to sell renewable energy directly to independent entities.
One project likely to benefit from Refit is the proposed wind farm at St Helena Bay on the West Coast. A joint initiative between the Western Cape department of environmental affairs, Oxfam UK, the Saldanha municipality and the Seeland Development Trust, the wind farm will be built on 926ha of land owned by about 200 members of the local community.
Power will be sold directly to the municipality, with revenues being used to fund community projects.
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