4 reasons why Utility Scale Renewables is a primary energy option for South Africa.

4 reasons why Utility Scale Renewables is a primary energy option for South Africa.


  1. Cost

By April 2016, figures from the CSIR, based on data from Eskom and from the DoE that we had achieved for wind and solar, at utility scale a bid tariff of 62c per kWh and this is compared to new coal at R1,02 c per kWh. Which is a conservative estimate, it could be more, if one looks at Kusile’s final costs and new nuclear at R1,17 and R1,30 per kWh.

In comparing new power supply options, wind and solar are currently the cheaper options. All new build costs if private power producers if exceed their bill cost estimates they are alone are responsible for covering those short falls from their balance sheet and in the case of government utilities cost over runs are for the consumer.


  1. Reliability

We have a construction track record for renewables at utility scale in SA of 98% in budget and on time, on the generation side, we have data from the CSIR for 2016 which shows (see slide 6) average monthly capacity factors it looks at peak hour contribution ratio’s, the data is really reliable.


A study by Eskom, CSIR in 2016 found that more than 80% of South Africa’s land mass has enough wind resources for economic wind farms.

  1. Sustainability

Renewable power performs most strongly here when compared to other energy sources in that there’s Low environmental impact in its operations, high social benefits throughout the value chain. Low risks associated with accidents and very low risks associated with decommissioning.

Job creation is achieved at high levels across most renewable technologies. Solar PV and particularly roof top solar provides the highest quantity of jobs. This is supported by data across the world. The relationship between policy certainty and job creation potential is critical and in our case. In particular, we are seeing that policy uncertainty is leading to job losses at a time when we really need more jobs.


  1. Contribution to development

The REIPP, South Africa’s utility program is a prime case study for how developmental objectives can be aligned. This is possible with the implementation of a government driven utility scale national program. The program was conceived around a set of developmental objectives. Like socio economic development benefits, enterprise development initiatives in rural areas, localization rules and more. On a quarterly basis, these are monitored and reported on.  There’s a clear, goal driven, monitored output contributing o development. Energy, in general, is essential to development. Renewable energy, however, ensures that such energy can be affordable, reliable, sustainable and make a solid contribution to development.


Excerpts are taken from the ESI Africa webinar on Clean Power.

The author: Brenda Martin, CEO, South African Wind Energy Association. (SAWEA) Thursday 31 August 2017.