The South African Photovoltaic Industry Association (SAPVIA), represented by the Vice Chairperson Ms. Busi Nxumalo, was invited to be an active participant at a forum discussion hosted by Regenesys Business School. SAPVIA, being a key stakeholder in the Renewable Energy space was requested to provide crucial insight and guidance to the discussion around Renewables being the future of South Africa’s economic growth plan.

The future is renewable

In typical SAPVIA fashion, consistency was the order of the day in as far as making factual submissions to promote the growth of Solar PV and Renewables in South Africa’s future energy demands.  From the initial draft IRP published in 2010 to the recently published Draft IRP in 2018, that seems to be more balanced and factual in terms of the potential role least cost technologies such as Solar and Wind can play in stimulating growth; SAPVIA, has been careful to stick to facts and provide a sober perspective on the role renewables will play to support South Africa energy demands going forward.

The forum discussion focused on the following key 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 the role Eskom as a major procurer of energy will play in the renewable energy sector

  • Understanding the IRP 2018 Draft particularly when it comes to the least cost model assumptions used.

  • Addressing the issue of potential Job losses for traditional sectors that are currently crucial for energy supply South Africa, such as coal and oil.

  • Understanding the critical role the energy mix of Solar PV, hydropower, wind, gas and coal will play in providing sustainable energy into our national grid.

The stance taken by SAPVIA in addressing some of the objectives of the forum discussion above-mentioned were controversial and yet consistent with the official submissions and comments made to the Draft IRP 2018.  SAPVIA’s view was as follows;

  • Solar PV have reduced drastically over the years, so this is well aligned with the least cost model the underpinned the draft 2018 IRP. Given this, SAPVIA believes that it is cost-optimal to aim for 85% renewable electricity share by 2050.

  • In as far as addressing potential job losses, the renewable energy industry has great potential of creating alternative jobs and absorbing jobs lost, especially through intense localization of the manufacturing value-chain of renewable energy technology.

  • Small ‘’glitches’’ such as the procurement gap in terms of Solar PV in the REIPPP programme between 2023-2024, may threaten industry growth and undermine the potential Solar PV has to create sustainable jobs, so therefore this is a critical aspect of the IRP that needs to 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 5 year period. This sector is very crucial as it’s a fast growing sector in South Africa can equally assist in stimulating jobs and growth of the economy

  • The Renewable Energy sector is the only sector with an accelerated uptake of energy supply into the national grid therefore it make sense to go with Renewables given the current energy crisis in South Africa.

SAPVIA is therefore confident that Renewables are indeed the future of energy supply in South Africa, as this is best way to secure sustainable energy supply at affordable rates.

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Crown Publications, one of South Africa’s largest business-to-business publishing houses, came into existence in 1986. Since then, the company has grown from producing a single magazine, Electricity SA (renamed Electricity+Control), to publishing six monthly magazines, three quarterlies, and a number of engineering handbooks.