Photovoltaic association participates in renewables forum

The South African Photovoltaic Industry Association (SAPVIA) was represented by its vice chairperson, Busi Nxumalo, as an active participant at a forum discussion hosted by Regenesys Business School in Johannesburg. The association was invited to provide insight and guidance to the discussion on renewables as the future of South Africa’s economic growth plan.

From the initial draft IRP published in 2010 to the recently published Draft IRP in 2018, which seems more balanced and factual in terms of the potential role of technologies such as solar, wind and biogas can play in stimulating growth, SAPVIA, has been at pains to stick to facts and provide a sober perspective on the role of renewables in South Africa.

The forum discussed the following objectives in trying to reach a conclusion on whether renewables will indeed address South Africa’s future energy demands:

  • Unpacking Eskom’s corporate plan to understand its role as a major procurer of energy in the renewable energy sector.
  • Understanding the IRP 2018 draft, particularly when it comes to the least-cost model assumptions used.
  • The issue of potential job losses for traditional sectors which are currently crucial for energy supply South Africa, such as coal and oil.
  • The critical role the energy mix of solar PV, hydropower, wind, gas and coal will play in providing sustainable energy into our national grid.

SAPVIA’s view was as follows:

  • Solar PV and other forms of renewable technology costs have gone down drastically over the years, so these technologies are well aligned with the least-cost model the underpinned the draft 2018 IRP. The association therefore believes that it is cost-optimal to aim for 85% renewable electricity share by 2050.
  • In terms of addressing potential job losses, the renewable energy industry has great potential of creating alternative jobs and absorbing jobs lost, especially through intense localisation of the manufacturing value chain of renewable energy technology.
  • Small ‘’glitches’’ such as the procurement gap in terms of solar PV in the REIPPP between 2023 and 2024, may threaten industry growth and undermine the potential solar PV has to create sustainable jobs. This is therefore a critical aspect of the IRP that must be addressed.
  • There needs to be a greater allocation for procurement for small-scale embedded generation (SSEG) to at least 500 MW, which can be ramped up over a five-year period. This fast-growing sector can equally assist in stimulating jobs and economic growth.
  • The renewable energy sector is the only sector with an accelerated uptake of energy supply into the national grid. It therefore makes sense to go with renewables given the current energy crisis in South Africa.

Contact Kim Thomas, SAPVIA, Tel 021 200-5856, kim@SAPVIA.co.za

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