En su discurso, leído por el portavoz del Departamento de Asuntos de Energía, Bheki Khumalo, la ministra subrayó la necesidad de fuentes de energía renovables como herramientas para que los países industrializados y en desarrollo afronten la crisis del calentamiento planetario.
Peters sostuvo que Suráfrica tenía un gran potencial para la generación de energía renovable. Estos proyectos también deberían beneficiar a los pobres y garantizar el acceso universal, añadió.
Cornelis van der Waal, gerente de industrias de energía de Frost & Sullivan, firma consultora y de estudios sobre negocios internacionales, dijo que el discurso de la ministra envió una señal positiva a los inversores privados en las energías renovables.
La compañía irlandesa Mainstream Renewable Power y la empresa local Genesis Eco-Energy han anunciado un plan de 850 millones de euros para la construcción de 18 parques eólicos de aquí a 2014, lo que supondrá una capacidad eléctrica añadida de 500 MW.
David Chown, director de operaciones de Genesis, dijo que la joint venture estaba lista para empezar la construcción de los dos primeros parques eólicos el año que viene. Estas tendrán capacidad para genera 70 MW y estarán en Jeffrey´s Bay y Colesberg.
En una reciente conferencia, la ministra de Minerales y Energía sudafricana, Buyelwa Sonjica, dijo que espera que entre un 6 y un 9% del total de energía eléctrica generada en 2013, provenga de fuentes renovables.
El sector recibió un duro golpe a fines de 2007, cuando el gobierno excluyó al maíz del programa de energías renovables ante indicios de que la producción de biocombustibles contribuía a la inseguridad alimentaria, impulsando al alza los precios de los productos básicos. Algunos agricultores ya habían invertido en maíz como potencial cultivo para energías renovables.
Recientemente, el Regulador Nacional de Energía de Sudáfrica (Nersa, por sus siglas en inglés) publicó una serie de tarifas de incentivo propuestas para cuatro fuentes renovables de energía.
Si son aceptadas, la empresa estatal de electricidad Eskom compraría energía solar a 22 centavos de dólar por kilovatio hora (kWh), eólica a 17 centavos, hídrica a pequeña escala a 11,5 centavos y de gas originado en rellenos sanitarios a unos 11 centavos de dólar.
Esto abriría el sector de las energías renovables a productores privados. Eskom actualmente vende formas tradicionales de energía, generadas por carbón, a unos tres centavos de dólar por kWh.
“El Ministerio destacó la energía solar como fuente renovable. Éste es un recurso que Suráfrica y el resto del continente tienen en abundancia”, dijo el profesor Wikus van Heerden, del Centro de Estudios para Energías Sostenibles y Renovables de la Universidad de Stellenbosch.
La industria de la energía renovable requiere un trabajo más intensivo que la del carbón, lo que quiere decir que se puede emplear a más personas.
“Sin embargo, la tecnología para la energía solar concentrada es muy cara. Se tendrán que importar las capacidades técnicas y la tecnología, y eso aumenta el precio”, dijo Heerden.
Todas las formas de energía renovable son caras, y la mayoría de los países africanos y de otros en el Sur en desarrollo carecen de los recursos necesarios y necesitan de capital extranjero. Suráfrica no es la excepción.
Uno de los primeros proyectos, un parque eólico en Darling, pequeño poblado cerca de la costa occidental del país, es un ejemplo de una empresa público-privada. A fines de 2008, este parque eólico se convirtió en la primera planta independiente en Suráfrica conectada a la red nacional.
El parque eólico es un proyecto conjunto del Departamento Nacional de Energía, el Fondo Central de Energía, la organización Productores Independientes de Energía de Darling y del Programa de Asistencia al Desarrollo Internacional del gobierno de Dinamarca.
La conferencia se celebró durante la Semana Africana del Servicio Público y con el contexto de una propuesta de incrementar las tarifas de la electricidad de Eskom alrededor de 34 por ciento.
Este incremento fue bien recibido por analistas en la conferencia, que consideran insostenible la actual estructura de precios bajos. Algunos incluso propusieron aumentos de hasta el 90 por ciento.
Pero el incremento fue criticado por varios sectores. El Congreso de Sindicatos Surafricanos amenazó con una huelga si el aumento es aceptado por el gobierno.
Los sindicalistas señalan que los incrementos forzarán a muchos negocios a cerrar, habrá pérdidas de empleos y más presión sobre los consumidores, en momentos que el país atraviesa una recesión por primera vez en 17 años.
“Los trabajadores tienen derecho a ir a las calles y protestar por los aumentos de las tarifas. Pero el incremento propuesto de 34 por ciento apenas cubrirá los costos operativos de Eskom”, dijo el director regional de la firma británica South Africa of Empower, que opera varias plantas de generación eléctrica.
“Eskom también tiene que pagar la deudas en las que ha incurrido para construir nuevas plantas”, añadió.
La empresa pública necesitará 43.000 millones de dólares durante los próximos cinco años para cubrir proyectos de expansión. Eskom ha sido afectado por una amplia gama de problemas financieros, la ineficacia de algunas plantas y la falta de capacidad de reserva.
Actualmente, se tiene sólo una capacidad de reserva de 13,5 por ciento, mientras que el ideal es el 15 por ciento. Esta carencia llevó a que el año pasado se produjeran cortes de luz que afectaron a todos los sectores económicos y causó pérdidas por miles de millones de dólares.
Es por esto que muchos en la industria y el comercio están a favor de un aumento de las tarifas. Si el incremento tiene la función de garantizar un continuo suministro, es preferible al efecto paralizante de los cortes de luz.
SA’s wind-energy capacity could be 300 MW by 2012
The first commercial wind farm in South Africa was opened on the 23rd of May 2008, near Darling in the Western Cape. The first phase consists of four 1.3MW turbines supplied by Fuhrlander, Germany. The total power generated estimated at 5.2MW will be put into the national grid at 66kV.
It has taken the developer Herman Oelsner 10 years to achieve his dream of being the first private wind farm in South Africa. There has been enormous concerns regarding environmental and aviation some of which still need to be resolved. DWP (Darling Wind Power) will be responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the wind farm, this however has been revoked due to mis management.
The Turbines have been standing still for 8 weeks as there is a ongoing court battle to remove Herman Oelsner from power. The investors are concerned as their investment is not generating capital at present.
Additionally, Klipheuwel wind farm, the first wind farm in sub-Saharan Africa, comprises three turbines – a Vestas V66 with 1.75 MW output, a Vestas V47 with 660 kW output and a Jeumont J48 with 750 kW output, giving a total output of almost 3.2 MW.
Wind-energy developments could supply up to 300 MW into South Africa’s electricity grid over the next three years, a new research study shows. However, the country’s energy-supply industry would continue to lag far behind that of countries in North Africa, which have far more ambitious targets and where there is already significant deployment experience.
Further, there are additional concerns, not raised in the study, that the roll-out of wind and other renewable technologies could be constrained by a desire among the South African authorities to limit tariff increases, which are already set to rise aggressively.
Frost & Sullivan energy research analyst Sipha Ndawonde argues that the lower upfront capital costs, as well as shorter lead times, will allow wind power projects to add additional capacity to the national grid far quicker than new coal or nuclear energy facilities.
However, the contribution of such projects will depend materially on issues such as grid capacity, private sector investment, environmental application processes and the regulatory environment.
The study suggests that, prior to 2006, there was a lack off urgency in South Africa to reduce electricity consumption and introduce energy efficiency measures, which also dulled the pressure on Eskom and private suppliers to explore alternative forms of generation.
But given the power disruptions of 2007 and 2008, and a new renewable energy feed-in-tariff (Refit) structure that “surpassed” the expectations of stakeholders, Frost & Sullivan anticipates that wind energy projects could begin to play a larger role.
That said, the study argues that South Africa should draw lessons from North Africa, which is home to over 97% of the total installed wind power on the continent, most of which is installed in Egypt, which already has an installed base of 365 MW, Tunisia and Morocco.
These three countries also installed 99% of the 104 MW of new wind power added across the continent in 2008.
Frost & Sullivan argues that the progress made in the territory was based on the identification, with experts, of the real potential for wind energy, and the involvement of development finance institutions in assisting to fund projects on favourable terms.
“Without accurate data on the wind speed and wind variability at a specific site, equipment manufacturers, project developers and investors will not be interested in investing time and resources into a project,” Ndawonde asserts.
He adds that South Africa may never catch up with its Northern counterparts, but that it has all the resources necessary to develop a significant wind energy industry.
“The wind potential is abundant, regulatory incentives are favourable and project developers, equipment suppliers and financiers have already expressed intent to get involved in the sector.
“What is required now is more dialogue between the regulators of the renewable energy industry on issues such as grid stability, grid connection costs and the timeframe in which these issues will be resolved,” he concludes.
Not included in the report, but an issue that appears to be emerging as a potential constraint, is a view that the authorities will seek to contain the price increases associated with renewable-energy projects, which would have the effect of limiting the number of projects sanction and introduced.
There are hints that the regulator, government and Eskom could seek to restrict the renewable- and independent power producer (IPP)-related price increase in the overall electricity tariff to 10% over the next three years.
The regulator has insisted that, although the Refit tariffs were significantly higher than the current Eskom tariff of about 22c/kWh, they would add only between 6% and 10% to the average tariff once the full 1 100 MW of capacity, which was being targeted for 2013, was installed and operational.
But should the authorities insist on a limit of 10%, Hatch principal consultant Dieter Metzner warns that new renewable and conventional IPP capacity could well be limited to a paltry 1 500 MW over the period, against a potential wind-energy pipeline alone of around 3 000 MW and a larger cross-technology pipeline of more than 5 000 MW.
There is also growing concern about the competitive tender processes that Eskom, as the designated ‘single buyer’, plans to implement.
Ian de Jager, an engineer working on various renewable projects, tells Engineering News Online that such a process appears to be out of step with the Refit, which suggests a “first come first serve” approach to licence applications and subsequent power purchase agreements (PPAs) with the single buyer office, or renewable energy purchasing authority (Repa).
Consequently, de Jager argues, the Refit may be run as a commercial programme, where bids won’t be evaluated against the prices as published by the regulator in the Refit, but on other criteria that remains somewhat opaque.
Under the Refit a wind tariff of R1,25/kWh was sanctioned, while small-scale hydro would receive 94c/kWh, landfill gas 90c/kWh and concentrated solar, with a storage capacity of more than six hours, would receive R2,10/kWh. Other renewable technologies, such as biomass and photovoltaic, could be added in the coming months.
But should a competitive process be pursued, only successful bidders would then be invited to enter into a PPA with the Repa rather than those that were first through the licencing door.
Matzner says there is also significant confusion among potential developers about how precisely a PPA will be procured.
Further, there was uncertainty about whether the rules provided sufficient protection in what would come down to robust commercial discussions with a powerful single buyer office, or Repa, which is housed within the incumbent utility.
GDF Suez Considering Wind-Energy Prospects In South Africa
Impressed by the recent release of a renewable energy feed-in tariff (Refit) framework by South Africa’s energy regulator, GDF Suez is now considering wind-energy investments in the country. GDF Suez already has a substantial renewable-energy fleet, with such sources accounting for more than 20% of its current production base.
Besides cogeneration, hydro and biomass production, GDF Suez also has wind facilities and has set a target of doubling its renewable-energy capacity by 2013.
Business development vice president for Southern Africa Maarten van der Horst said the Refit created a strong incentive for renewable investments.
"We are interested mainly in wind power generation," Van der Horst reported, adding that the tariffs proposed as from 2009 created an environment for investors to "seriously" consider investing in South Africa.
However GDF Suez was keen that a number of loose ends be clarified before it made any firm commitments.
The National Energy Regulator of South Africa’s (Nersa’s) proposal to review the Refit yearly was of particular concern as Van der Horst believed it created some uncertainty about whether the favourable tariffs would be sustained.
It also wanted greater certainty on the governance framework surrounding the power purchase agreements (PPAs), particularly given that Eskom would be the renewable-energy purchasing authority, or Repa.
Nersa unveiled the Refit regime for potential wind, minihydro, landfill-gas and concentrating-solar power investments in March and indicated that it had already received several enquiries from potential investors.
For wind, a tariff of R1,25/kWh was sanctioned, which was a significant improvement on the 65c/kWh initially proposed. Small-scale hydro would receive 94c/kWh, landfill gas 90c/kWh and concentrated solar with a storage capacity of more than six hours would receive R2,10/kWh.
The regulator also insisted that, although the tariffs were significantly higher than the current Eskom tariff of about 22c/kWh, the Refit would add only between 6% and 10% to the average tariff once the full 1 100 MW of capacity, which was being targeted for 2013, was installed and operational.
The new tariff regime would enable PPAs to run for a term of 20 years, rather than the 15 years initially mooted.
"From our perspective, the Refit is a very good start to establish renewable energy generation sources in South Africa," Van der Horst concluded.
SA to invest $1.2bn in wind energy
Irish company Mainstream Renewable Power has signed a €850-million (about R11-billion) joint venture deal with South African firm Genesis Eco-Energy to build wind farms to generate "an initial pipeline" of over 500 MW of energy in the Eastern, Northern and Western Cape provinces by 2014.
The joint venture company plans to have two projects – a 30 MW wind farm at Jeffrey’s Bay near Port Elizabeth, and a 40 MW project at Colesberg in the Northern Cape – ready for construction early in 2010.
The two projects "are both at advanced development stages and are expected to be fully operational early in 2011," Mainstream said in a statement on Thursday.
"Wind energy is very much an untapped resource in South Africa, and this is a huge opportunity for us," said Mainstream chief executive Eddie O’Connor.
A shortage of power generating capacity is constraining South Africa’s economic growth, and state electricity company Eskom is to spend hundreds of billions of rands over the next five years on increasing this capacity.
At the same time, the government is placing increasing emphasis on reducing South Africa’s dependence on fossil fuels. Speaking at a renewable energy conference in Pretoria on Thursday, Minerals and Energy Minister Buyelwa Sonjica said the government wanted renewable energy to account for between 6% and 9% of electricity generated in the country by 2013, and between 9% and 15% by 2018.
Mainstream’s O’Connor said that while there was currently less than 10 MW of wind energy in operation in South Africa, with the country’s "excellent wind resource there’s the potential for many thousands.
"We are confident that the South African government will shortly implement appropriate policies to kick-start and support the wind energy market," O’Connor added.
Genesis Eco-Energy’s director of operations, Davin Chown said that Mainstream’s investment was "a vote of confidence in both the Genesis team as well as the emerging renewable energy market in South Africa, which holds significant potential for an investment and development partnership such as ours."
Besides contributing to South Africa’s climate change mitigation strategy, the new projects will give a major boost to local economic development, energy security and job creation.
Mainstream is also engaged in development projects in the US, UK, Canada, Chile and Germany. Earlier this month, the company signed a CAD$840-million deal to build wind farms in Canada, and in February it won the right to develop a £1.1-billion offshore wind farm off Scotland.
South Africa Energy Situation
South Africa has an energy intensive economy, highly reliant on fossil fuels, and sees economic growth based on energy intensive industries a key means to development.
In the field of renewable energy resources, wind energy is the technology with the lowest production cost of electricity. This form of energy generation has increasingly becoming established in Europe, the USA and India. As South Africa is blessed with abundant wind energy, especially along its coastline, it makes sense to develop and apply existing technology to local conditions and needs.
1 – Energy production
Currently Eskom (state owned company) has a total installed generating capacity of some 42,000MW (net 36,200 MW, peak 34,200 MW) with already new peak capacity in demand since 2007. 93% of its power production capacity is of coal based (10 large plants), 5% nuclear and 2% hydroelectric. 22 small power stations and back-up gas-turbines represent less than 1% of the national output, another 3% is used for own consumption by independent power producers.
Considering the economic development of South Africa an additional 40’000MW production capacity has been planned by Eskom over the next 20 years due mainly to upcoming large mining and metal industry. In the mean time the FIFA-World Cup will increase the demand for peak power. The total electricity sales from Eskom went up from 207’921GWh in 2006 to 218’120GWh in 2007 or an additional 5%.
If the future power mix is not yet precisely defined a clear orientation towards additional nuclear and renewable energy production is expected.
The Government believes that renewable energy can in many cases provide the least cost energy services, particularly when the social and environmental costs are included, and will therefore provide focused support for the development, demonstration and applications of renewable energy. Furthermore, renewable energy would lead to the introduction of a new technology and possibly new industry into South Africa with a high potential for job creation (Wind Power having the greatest potential on that matter compared to the other), an important goal of Government.
The energy crisis has led to the current legislation with Eskom being forced to buy all power produced by IPP’s, and a goal of 30% share of IPP’s in power production.
2 – Energy sales
50% of the electricity produced is sold directly to the consumers by Eskom, the balance is sold to municipalities which generates additional incomes through the distribution and resale to end customers. This market organization has a direct impact on prices and price disparity from one region to the other. To solve this issue, the government has planned to unbundle the industry by consolidating the distribution industry in 6 independent regional electricity distributors (RED) which will purchase generation and transmission services by means of a wholesale pricing system.
Eskom generation surplus was expected to end by 2008-2010 but has already ended at the time of this article; therefore it is inevitable that electricity tariff will increase. It has already started in December 2007 with a price hike of 14% (from march 2008) and further yearly hikes of 20% for the 5 years to come are forecasted. This situation paints a completely new and different picture giving a whole range of generation technologies and IPP (Independent Power Producer) competitiveness.
3 – Power transmission
Eskom controls the transmission network with some 26500km high voltage lines (400 and 275kV) and 365,000km of low voltage lines; Eskom will continue to invest in the refurbishment and upgrade of its distribution network. Regarding the access to the grid the government supports a non-discriminatory open access (white paper on energy – 2003)
The government is currently addressing unbundling after having commercialized and corporatised Eskom in Eskom Generation, Eskom Transmission and Eskom Distribution (6 RED’s), the split has the aim of easing the opening for IPP to enter the power generation business.
4 – Tariff control
Tariffs are controlled, negotiated and set by the NERSA organization (National Electricity Regulator of SA – acting under the Department of Mineral and Energy DME), an independent government body also in charge of licensing and arbitration. Feed-in tariff for IPP’s are still to be designed.
5 – Outcome on the future South African power production industry
Eskom after several years of arguable maintenance of its equipments has seen its investments life time shrink and faces today major on-going repairs and new investments; as a matter of consequence, the plants are running flat-out to face current demand, leaving little space for preventive maintenance and increasing the number of already frequent blackouts. Eskom, in order to face its own challenge will have to hike considerably its costs to bring new infrastructure on stream. Main issues beside the considerable size of investments required are the delivery of additional installations as well as the ability of Eskom to finance the same (S&P has placed Eskom’s rating on "credit watch with negative implications" – business report January 13th 2008).
Government (white paper -2003) has stated that it wants to generate 10,000Gwh from renewable energy sources by 2013 – an equivalent to 4% of the forecasted power demand, which is equivalent to one 1,200MW power station. Within the next decade, close to 70% of the country renewable energy needs to come from wind.
In the short term Eskom has to meet the urgent demand for power, shortened lead-time and related expenses force to look for other alternative than coal-fired or nuclear power stations making today renewable very competitive in that regard along with gas turbines.
5 – Windpower on the agenda
The SAWEP, an organization for the promotion of wind power working closely with the DME (Dept of Mineral and energy) is currently trying to address the remaining issues linked to IPP’s in general and Windpower in particular, this in order to give equal chances for new private investors in the IPP business.
For now IPP’s use Eskom distribution network through a designed wheeling agreements where the amount of electricity fed into the grid is monitored on both producer and user side, discounted at a later stage from the user Eskom-electicity-bill.
March 2005 South African Environment Department approves Darling wind farm as first Independent Power Producer (IPP) and national demonstration project in South Africa. Located 70 km north of Cape Town 4 wind turbines with 5,2 MW installed power for the first stage will come into operation at the end of 2005. AfriWEA founding President Hermann Oelsner succeeded after nearly 8 years of preparation. contact
2005/03/02 First local wind farm gets to the nod www.busrep.co.za
2005/03/02 After four years, green light is given for wind energy farm.