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SA wind industry joins global push for net zero ahead of COP26 and climate change bill

Ahead of this year’s United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP26, taking place 31 October to 12 November 2021, and the imminent parliamentary tabling of South Africa’s Climate Change Bill, the South African Wind Energy Association (SAWEA) has reiterated its commitment to ensure the country’s wind industry aligns with global plans.

Working in collaboration with its global counterparts, as a member and participant in Global Wind Energy Council’s COP26 Working Group, SAWEA joins the Global Wind Energy Coalition in urging key stakeholders, including governments, economies and communities to put policies in place that will raise ambition and remove barriers to the massive scaling up in investments in wind power, in order to reach Net Zero targets.

The manifesto for COP26 calls for wind energy to be a lead contributor to global decarbonisation strategies. The manifesto also calls for a commitment to decommissioning schedules of coal-fired power stations. As a signatory to the manifesto, SAWEA has supported that local policy commitments around decommissioning are met in a way that is economically feasible for the local economy, and also for the continued development of the wind sector to be prioritised.

“With the latest CO2 emission targets released by the Presidential Climate Commission (PCC), we observe that there is increased commitment from the state to decarbonise, and we acknowledge this commitment as symbolic to mitigating the global climate emergency, the reviewed targets commit to 350-420MtonCO2e reduction by 2030. In the past 10 years wind energy has contributed to the 60.7MtonCO2e reduction that has been realised by renewables in South Africa,” says Letlhogonolo Tsoai, technical programmes officer at SAWEA.

She adds, “Our role is to safeguard industry’s alignment with the global agenda and to ensure that the manifesto remains representative of our local ambitions, for which we will advocate the necessary policy shifts.”  

With reference to the country’s first comprehensive legal framework for climate, namely the Climate Change Bill, and the global Net Zero to 2050 target, SAWEA believes that the deployment of wind and other renewable sources of energy will go a long way to enable the necessary decarbonisation.

Crispian Olver, executive director of the Presidential Climate Commission (PCC), addressed the wind industry at its recent annual conference, Windaba, on the role of the sector in the Just Energy Transition and specifically in the country’s decarbonisation targets. He highlighted that by 2050, a renewables-dominated power system will be the most cost-competitive system for South Africa.

 “Transitioning South Africa’s power system to net-zero will require the deployment of roughly 150GW of wind and solar capacity by 2050.  This is almost four times the total capacity of South Africa’s coal power plants today. It represents an investment of around R3 trillion, within the next 30 years, requiring significant expansion and upgrades to the transmission and distribution infrastructure,” said Olver.

“To reach net zero by 2050, South Africa will need to speed up deployment of renewable energy capacity – a rate of 4GW of renewables will need to be installed every year, which is roughly ten times the current pace of new-build.”

Crispian Olver, executive director of the Presidential Climate Commission (PCC)

It is widely agreed that in addition to accelerating the deployment of renewable power, repurposing of retiring coal plants, support for Electric Vehicle manufacturing and export-oriented green hydrogen industry, should all be included in the mitigating efforts.

Cabinet has endorsed a new Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) range of 420- to 350-million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (Mt CO2-eq) for 2030, which represented a marked improvement on its 2015 pledge of 614 Mt CO2-eq to 398 Mt CO2-eq.

The Climate Change Bill

  • is expected to be tabled in Parliament 1 November 2021;
  • provides for a coordinated and integrated response by the economy and society to climate change and its impacts;
  • provides for the effective management of climate change impacts;
  • addresses that mitigation efforts should be based on the best available science, evidence and information;
  • gives effect to SA’s international commitments and obligations in relation to climate change.

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