- Developers of new solar photovoltaic (PV) or wind projects should rather consider developing infrastructure in other provinces such as the Western Cape, North West, Free State or Limpopo, advises Jan Fourie, General Manager: Sub-Sahara Africa, Scatec ASA.
This could create an opportunity for the advantages of the just energy transition process to spread across more parts of the country, to the benefit of more communities in other provinces, says Fourie.
Most of the current renewable energy projects in South Africa are located in the Northern Cape, where it makes use of the abundant wind and solar resources that are available. It is estimated that 70% of new PV and 60% of wind project developments are located in this province.
The update published by Eskom describes a congested Northern Cape provincial grid, which cannot take on additional projects without a substantial upgrade.
Link to latest Eskom Transmission Plan HERE
“Considering the urgency of our country’s need to transition to renewable energy, I don’t foresee this being a practical option in the short term. The alternative is for developers to look at other provinces where solar and wind resources are also available,” he says.
This creates an opportunity for a more socially-just transition to cleaner energy, which can also result in a fairer distribution of skills and jobs across more provinces. The development of new projects in other parts of the country brings with it the opportunity of new job creation and it can also redeploy those currently employed in the coal mining sector, he highlights.
“The major factor that determines the location of a renewable energy project has for a long time been the access to wind and solar resources, which explains the popularity of the Northern Cape.”
Developers will need to consider grid capacity perhaps more than access to resources. South Africa is in a fortunate position to have an abundance of solar and wind resources, and there is now the potential of a welcome cash injection for other provincial economies which will be in all stakeholders’ best interest, Fourie concludes.
Author: Bryan Groenendaal