• Bheki Khumalo
Spokesperson, Department of Energy
+27 12 444 4270
• Nomawethu Qase
Director of Renewable Energy
Department of Energy
+27 12 444 4222
Eskom media desk
+27 11 800 3304
• Kusile power station to go ahead
• South Africa, Russia sign uranium deal
• New technologies for social housing
• SA’s first hydrogen bike rolled out
• More wind power for South Africa
South Africa plans to build a massive $21.8-billion, 5 000 MW solar park in its semi-desert Northern Cape province as part of an aggressive push to grow its highly industrialised economy and reduce poverty without increasing its carbon footprint.
Depending on investor interest, construction could begin as early as 2012.
With the help of a World Bank loan, Eskom, South Africa’s primary energy utility, is already developing a 100 MW concentrated solar power plant, estimated to cost about $1-billion, in the same region. And a smaller-scale solar installation is on the cards for Robben Island, the place Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for many years.
South Africa’s strategy is to make cleaner, more efficient use of the country’s abundant, low-cost coal reserves in the near term while at the same time expanding the use of low-emission energy technologies and renewables.
This strategy will be in the global spotlight in 2011, when South Africa hosts the 17th annual UN Framework Convention on Climate Change conference. New global emission targets are also likely to be discussed at the gathering.
This year, the World Bank granted Eskom a $3.75-billion loan both to help build the country’s biggest coal-fired plant, Medupi, and to finance renewable energy projects such as the solar power plant as well as wind farms. With the help of the loan, Medupi will be equipped with state-of-the-art technology to produce more power with less coal.
Private sector investment in other renewable energy plants is also encouraged through generous feed-in tariffs, which were approved by the National Energy Regulator of South Africa in late 2009 and rate among the most attractive worldwide.
According to Stefan Gsänger of the World Wind Energy Association, South Africa is the first country in Africa to introduce a feed-in tariff for wind energy.
“Many small and big investors will now be able to contribute,” he says. “This will help South African communities to invest in wind farms and generate electricity, new jobs and new income.”
Another renewable energy scheme is Eskom’s solar water-heating programme, in which consumers who replace electric geysers with solar-powered ones are given a substantial rebate. The government has also launched a massive drive to install low-energy lighting in thousands of buildings it owns, which will save some $845-million in electricity costs every year.
The state-owned Central Energy Fund’s newly built headquarters are emblematic of new energy priorities. The four-storey building has sensors which switch lights off when no-one is in a room and dim them when there is enough daylight. A magnetic motor-operated lift uses 80% less electricity than a hydraulic one. Two 250 000 gallon solar heaters provide hot water.
In September the government introduced an emissions tax on new passenger cars and light commercial vehicles. South Africa is the first country in the world to include the latter in such a regime, which aims to encourage individuals and businesses to buy smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles.
The government also plans to develop a massive crude-oil refinery to produce quality petrol and diesel to international standards by 2015.
Nuclear technology will also be added to the mix, as a key way of “generating enough electricity in a responsible and sustainable fashion to support higher economic growth levels”, the Department of Energy says.
Five to six new nuclear stations will be built over the next few decades, fuelled by South Africa’s uranium reserves. Announcing the ambitious plan at a recent power summit, Minister of Energy Dipuo Peters said a series of nuclear plants would be more cost-effective than a single large one.
The plants would be placed near points of demand, reducing reliance on comparatively inefficient cross-country power lines that transmit electricity from distant coal fields.
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Powering towards a green economy
South Africa plans to build a massive $21.8-billion, 5 000 MW solar park in its semi-desert Northern Cape province as part of an aggressive push to grow its highly industrialised economy without increasing its carbon footprint.
The everyday beauty of Soweto
South African photographer Jodi Bieber has a special ability to bring out the beauty in the ordinary, even the disfigured. On the cover of Time magazine she made a mutilated Afghani girl look beautiful, and in her latest book Soweto she makes everyday township life shine.
Launchpad to a billion consumers
By offering to acquire Massmart for some $4.2-billion, Wal-Mart has joined the parade of global companies looking to South Africa as a springboard into what is increasingly seen as the world’s last great investment frontier.
A trek to the start of time
It will probe the edges of our universe. It will be a virtual time machine, helping scientists explore the origins of galaxies. It’s the Square Kilometre Array, and South Africans are at the heart of its development.
Brewing up a global brand
Miller Lite. Tastes great. Less filling. And brought to you by world-beating South African company SABMiller.
Looking south and east for growth
As the shift in global economic power gains momentum, South Africa’s trade is moving eastwards and southwards in a pattern that both reflects the worldwide trend and helps drive it, writes John Battersby.
More than just a celluloid Mandela
There is a special bond between Hollywood actor Morgan Freeman and the man he played in the Clint Eastwood movie Invictus, South African statesman Nelson Mandela.
Africa in the new world order
Kgalema Motlanthe, South Africa’s deputy president, looks at how African economies’ resilient performance during the global financial crisis points to the continent’s new place in a changing world.
Mining history for new solutions
Mark Cutifani, CEO of the multinational AngloGold Ashanti mining company, examines why South Africa’s past is key to successfully doing business here in the future.
Turning up the media volume
Since 1990, South Africa has been a noisy place. After decades of apartheid censorship, the lifting of restrictions on the media led to a cacophony of debate. For the first time in centuries, everyone could be heard, and it was sometimes deafening, writes Anton Harber.
A joule of an energy-efficient car
South Africa, which builds BMWs and Mercedes Benzes for the US market, is in the thick of the race to deliver a truly practical – and stylish – electric car. Meet the Joule.
South Africa: Time to believe
The forgiving philosophy of “ubuntu” helps explain how South Africa managed to transcend its turbulent apartheid past and create a unified democracy, writes Simon Barber.
Finding sound real estate investment
South Africa’s post-apartheid transformation and new middle class are fuelling demand for affordable homes. For private equity fund International Housing Solutions, that means opportunity.
My normal, crazy, mixed-up country
South African hit movie White Wedding is now showing in the US to rave reviews. Jann Turner, who directed and jointly wrote and produced the film, writes about the place that inspired it – South Africa.
Bring on the braai
All South Africans love it – including Nobel peace prize-winning Desmond Tutu – and its rich, smoky smell floats over the country every Sunday. Celebrate the braai with our great recipe for making boerewors, traditional South African farmer’s sausage.