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Renewables sector lays into government over policy delays

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South African Wind Energy Association CEO Ntombifuthi Ntuli.
South African Wind Energy Association CEO Ntombifuthi Ntuli.

South African Wind Energy Association (SAWEA) says it feels let down by the government following the failure by the cabinet to approve the 2019 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP).

The government has failed to approve the IRP draft since 2010. AS the uncertainty continues, the renewable energy sector is crying foul, blaming the authorities as the reason why investors are holding back investment.

“We are disappointed to hear that Cabinet has once again failed to approve the 2019 IRP update, especially considering the critical role that this roadmap plays in ensuring that we remain on track to deliver the energy requirements for our country’s development needs and to achieve the NDP’s benchmarks,” says Ntombifuthi Ntuli, CEO of SAWEA.

She reminds the government that and other key stakeholders of the role that renewable energy is expected to play in the country’s future development and, more specifically, in the achievement of the National Development Plan (NDP).

There is a very strong lobby against renewable energy and everyone is lobbying the same office.

Ntuli says: “The 2010 IRP was launched with the aim of developing power projects that would add renewable energy into our power system by 2030 and as a direct result of the NDP’s outcomes.”

Ntuli says the sector is on track to deliver on the 2030 goal to connect 20GW of renewable power to the grid, although just over 6,2GW of renewable power has been procured to date. “The simple answer is yes, we are on track to achieve this.”

She says the latest IRP draft, which was said to be tabled at NEDLAC, made a provision for 9 980MW of wind energy and 7 474 MW of solar PV, which makes up a total of over 17,5GW of new capacity of renewable power by 2030. 

“So, if you add this to the already procured power, we will have well over 20GW of renewable energy by 2030.”

In limbo

This is the second time hat Ntuli has sharply criticised government policy.

Earlier this month, Ntuli told ITWeb: “We are in policy limbo at this stage, we are waiting for the IRP and the fact that we have waited for so long doesn’t make me happy. We had the IRP 2013 draft that was never approved, we then had the 2016 IRP draft also never approved, and this was followed by the 2018 draft that was never approved.”

Aside from the policy conundrum, she says there is also strong lobbying against renewable energy that has exacerbated hiccups in the sector.

 “The public officials are hearing a lot of voices, including ours and we know there is strong opposition towards the move to renewable energy. There is a very strong lobby against renewable energy and everyone is lobbying the same office.”

She added: “We hear a lot of people in public talking about the negative stuff, maybe we need to start doing more educating the public on renewable energy.”

Industry experts say an up-to-date IRP for electricity is essential for the country’s overall economic and energy planning process for the provision of adequate electricity generation capacity to meet demand for the next 20 to 40 years.

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