Ramping up of Renewables
The Integrated Resource Plan (IRP 2010) South Africa’s current strategic planning framework for electricity in the energy sector, adopted in 2011, includes an ambitious ramp up of renewables – to almost 19 Gigawatts (GW) (made up largely of Wind, Solar PV and Concentrated Solar Power) to be added to the grid by 2030.
Achieving an ambitious scale-up of renewables as envisaged in the IRP would deliver four key economic benefits to South Africa:
- Industrial development: Creating and sustaining employment by localising parts of the global value chain of renewables, notably manufacturing, construction, operations and servicing but also potentially research and product development and developing the skills and value chains to supply these industries.
- Medium-term energy security: Renewables, if developed in the next ten years could add several percentage points to energy reserves, helping to addressing the medium-term risk of economic and social dislocation as a result of reduced energy supply deficits.
- Export competitiveness: 60% of South Africa’s electricity supply is used by industry, and these energy users, while concerned about controlling costs, are also increasingly vulnerable to international measures which may be taken to control the trade of products associated with high carbon emissions. Greening South Africa’s energy supplies would help to secure the on-going competitiveness of energy-intensive exports.
- Green growth: A burgeoning renewables industry will help to build business and policy awareness of the potential of the green economy. This can help to catalyse green investments in other areas of the economy.
Generating these benefits from renewables cannot be achieved through a gradual build-up of scale but only through a strategic ramp-up, which enables the build- up of capacity to be both cost-optimised and aligned towards strategic technology choices, rather than a fragmented development of the industry.