Speaker after speaker highlighted the Northern Cape’s central role in the renewable energy contribution in South Africa. The province is regarded as home to sustainable private investment in Renewable Energy and to date it is host to 59 of the country’s 112 Independent Power Producers with more than 19 projects already connected to the grid at the capacity of 900MW.
The new bid windows that were announced in April this year saw the signing of 27 independent power producers (IPP’s) purchase agreements, with a combined investment value of R56 billion and a capacity of 2300MW, 15 which are located in the Northern Cape.
According the speech of MEC Mack Jack that was read by MEC for Social Development, Gift Van Staden, the Northern Cape’s ambition is to become the net exporter of green energy by 2020, and achieve an overall energy saving of 24% by 2030. The obstacles to the objectives were highlighted as: lack of business skills of small enterprises to access economic development obligations funding opportunities from the IPP’s; literacy level of the local communities to participate in the socio-economic development (SED) and enterprise development (ED) opportunities; slow pace of socio-economic transformation; lack of full localization and the absence of government support to ensure that the majority of the Originally Equipment Manufacturers are located in South Africa.
MEC Mac Jack’s department recommended the development of a Renewable Energy Charter which will strengthen the transformation agenda and bring harmonization between government policies and community expectations. The intention of the charter, according to the speech, would be to achieve mutually symbiotic sustainable growth and broad based meaningful transformation within the renewable energy sector particularly within the IPP Programme. Jack further suggested that the proposed Solar Park should be finalised and implemented as all feasibility studies were completed.
It is anticipated that the Solar Park will stimulate investment in new and expanding industrial manufacturing facilities, the development of local supply chains and entrepreneurial and employment opportunities for the province’s people. The Solar Park will be developed in a clustered fashion, sharing common infrastructure and services such as access to land, water supply, feeder lines to electricity transmission system, roads and support industries.
Jack’s speech concluded with the recommendations that a renewable energy project for Ritchie be developed and the establishment of the Renewable Energy Manufacturing Plant in the province.