Winds of change as energy sector secures R50bn - SA Wind Energy Association

The South African wind energy sector had secured R50bn in investments this year, Tebogo Movundlela, chair of the SA Wind Energy Association, told delegates at the Windaba conference in Cape Town on Wednesday.

Movundlela said this kind of investment was aligned with President Cyril Ramaphosa’s call for South Africans to mobilise investment in the country.

The wind sector had also secured 32 000 jobs since the start of the country’s wind energy programme. 

“Remember the president said: ‘Send me’ (in his state of the nation address). Well, we are offering to help in solving the energy problem,” Movundlela said.

After two years of uncertainty, she sad the renewable energy programme was back on track, with the government’s signing this year of another 27 independent power producers, of which 12 were wind projects.

Several speakers at the annual wind energy conference spoke of the global revolution in the energy sector, which was moving from fossil fuels to renewable energy, driven largely by the rapid drop in the price of renewables. 

An added driver was the urgent need to cut climate-changing greenhouse gas emissions.
Steve Sawyer, senior policy advisor of the Global Wind Energy Council told delegates renewable energy now provided one quarter of the world’s electricity.

Last year 88% of new investment in power generation was from solar and wind energy.
Sawyer said in 2004 the global investment in renewables was $50bn. This had risen to $279bn in 2017.

“Investment in solar PV is being driven by the developing countries, with China the biggest investor. Investment in offshore wind is growing and increased by four times between 2013 and 2016,” Sawyer said.

“There is no future for coal. There is not much future for gas. The emissions from gas are relatively cleaner, but the rest of the production and transportation produce methane gas, which means in climate terms, you might as well be burning coal.”

Sawyer referred to the report released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change last month that said the world had just 12 years to cut carbon emissions radically enough to stay below an average global warming of 1.5°C.

The four remaining key problems in greenhouse gas emissions were ships, aircraft, cement and steel production.

“We need decarbonising for industry now, which will take decades to achieve."

But Sawyer said rapidly dropping prices of renewables was not enough to move the sector forward.

There was also a need for government policies to support the industry, such as a decarbonising policy.

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