South Africa needs 50,000MW of renewables by 2030

South Africa needs 50,000MW of additional renewable capacity to be built by 2030 as Eskom will decommission 11,000MW of coal-fired power by the end of the decade. 

Chairman of the South African Independent Power Producers Association Brian Day told eNCA there is a massive opportunity for companies to develop renewable energy projects. 

Over the last three years, the government has taken dramatic steps to open the electricity market to private players, specifically for large Independent Power Producers (IPP) to start contributing electricity to the grid. 

The government’s Renewable Energy IPP Programme has added 6,300MW to the grid since its inception in 2013 and will look to add more capacity in the next two years with Bid Windows 6 and 7. 

Companies increasingly choose to build renewable projects for their own usage and only contribute surplus capacity to the grid. 

The government has also allowed private companies to develop renewable projects for specific consumers. This allows third parties to build renewable projects and sell the electricity generated directly to a specific consumer, not Eskom. 

Day estimated that 10,000MW of renewable energy capacity has been installed in South Africa, including large IPPs and household systems. 

This is a far cry from the 50,000MW needed by the end of the decade when Eskom is set to decommission 11,000MW of coal power. 

Day said renewable energy is the only solution that allows such a large capacity to come onstream within a decade. 

However, renewable energy is highly inefficient, with solar and wind generation only operating at 35% to 45% capacity, as the sun does not always shine and the wind does not always blow. 

Using a capacity factor of 40% and assuming that Eskom’s current generation shortfall will have to be covered, South Africa needs 50,000MW of renewable capacity by the end of the decade. 

Eskom estimates that 53,000MW will be added to the grid by 2030, while the Presidential Climate Commission estimates up to 60,000MW will need to be built.

This will require Eskom’s grid to be upgraded and develop storage capacity for renewables along with backup power in the form of gas, coal, or nuclear.

Day said this provides an enormous opportunity for companies in South Africa and the economy more broadly. Investment on this scale will drive economic growth and provide employment. 

He urged the government and the private sector to expand local manufacturing capacity for renewable technology and develop plans to reskill workers.


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