SAPVIA has begun to track the uptake of embedded generation for different technologies.
“As a start, we are tracking the NERSA registered projects. We’ve already observed exponential growth in the registration of generation facilities. We anticipate that amendments to Schedule 2 of the ERA will further catalyse deployment of RE technologies,” says Dr Rethabile Melamu, CEO of SAPVIA.
“We are proud to publish a link to the data portal for your interaction.”
Some highlights from the data portal are:
• Solar PV dominates the embedded generation market, with a 78% share for all registered projects, with the highest concentration in the Northern Cape, Free State and the North West province.
• 1 MW licence threshold exemption has been catalytic: Registered projects from August 2021 stands at 547 projects and have a combined capacity of 2839 MW.
• Removal of licencing threshold unlocks 100 MW private projects: Since December 2022, 5 renewable energy plants that are larger than 100MW were registered. Three of those, all Solar PV technologies, amount to 552 MW were registered in February 2023. The largest of which is 283 MW plant.
This year’s National Water Week drives the agenda of ‘Water for All’, an objective which SRK Consulting has supported in many ways – one of which has been through its application of isotope technology.
Ismail Mahomed, principal hydrogeologist at SRK Consulting, has recently used isotopes to identify the source of water contamination, as a first step in resolving this threat to water security. South Africa is classified as a semi-arid country, emphasised Mahomed, and cannot afford the pollution of its scarce water resources.
In a recent address to the conference of the Network for Industrially Contaminated Land (Nicola), he explained how isotopes had proved a valuable and cost-effective technology to help resolve a contamination issue at a metals processing plant.
“A particular environment will acquire a characteristic isotopic composition or signature by virtue of the hydrogeochemical processes involved,” he said. “We can use this isotope signature for ‘fingerprinting’ – giving us clues to trace the source of water, and hence of the contamination.”
In his case study, he explained how spatial variations in deuterium and Oxygen-18 occur in the hydrological cycle – leading to a lower proportion of these isotopes in rain that falls inland than in rain falling at the coast.
“These are among the variables we can use to identify whether the source of water is from surface dams or from groundwater – as the signature from the rainfall will be retained in groundwater,” said Mahomed. “Evaporation also has an impact on this signature as preferentially lighter isotopes will evaporate from the oceans and surface water.”
One of the aspects of the case study was considering the evaporation signature of some of the ponds on the client’s site – a signature which was different to the groundwater. Data analysed during this project suggested that there was some mixing of water from different sources in the underdrain of one of the ponds. He explained that hydrology can benefit greatly from using isotopes in the tracing of groundwater, to help determine the vulnerability and sustainability of water resources.
“The technology helps hydrologists to determine factors affecting water quality such as sub-surface processes, geochemical reactions and reaction rates,” he said. “It can also be used to better understand the relationship between surface and groundwater, and even to detect leaks.”
The United Nations’ World Water Day is also being celebrated in March, with the organisation warning that countries are not making enough progress in meeting Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6. This goal aims to ensure safely managed water and sanitation by 2030 for all the world’s population. The UN has said that there is an urgent need to accelerate change, by going beyond ‘business as usual.
Must move faster
“The latest data show that governments must work on average four times faster to meet SDG 6 on time, but this is not a situation that any single actor or group can solve,” reported the UN. It has called upon global citizens to “be the change you want to see in the world” – by taking action on how they use, consume and manage water.
Among the approaches for accelerating action in water management that SRK Consulting has promoted in its engagements with clients is water stewardship. With water management becoming a key risk for industries like mining, consulting firm EY has rated water as the leading environmental, social and governance (ESG) risk in mining for 2023. SRK Consulting principal consultant Fiona Sutton explained that water stewardship offered a practical process for companies in mining and other sectors to collaborate more closely with partners and stakeholders in managing their shared water resources.
“This approach is also supported by valuable best practice tools like the International Water Stewardship Standard from the Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS),” said Sutton. “The AWS Standard offers a globally applicable framework for major water users to understand their catchment and their own water use and impacts, with practical guidance on how to effectively manage these impacts.”
Growing concerns about South Africa’s water security saw Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana announce – in his recent Budget Speech – planned expenditure on national water infrastructure of R121 billion over the medium term. This included R3,7 billion in municipal water infrastructure, through the National Budget facility for infrastructure.
SRK Consulting has been extensively involved in water infrastructure, including facilities for rural water supply points. Gert Nel, principal hydrogeologist and partner at SRK Consulting, explained that these water points were vital in providing water to communities, schools and clinics which could not be reached through bulk water supply systems.
“However, there is a need to provide more support for these stand-along supply points, to ensure they are reliable and sustainable,” said Nel. “After the installation of these facilities – such as boreholes and water treatment systems – there is seldom any backup support or funding to sustain their continuous operation.”
When such facilities are planned, it is necessary to also include aspects such as training, awareness raising, mentoring and on-going support. For instance, there needs to be ready access to technical support for breakdowns, and training on how to regularly maintain or service the equipment. This will extend the life of the installations and improve their value to the community – while reducing the risk of water-borne diseases.
SRK Consulting works with both the public and private sectors in their water management interventions, and applies a range of scientific and engineering disciplines to help achieve the goal of ‘Water for All’.
Body corporates and your solar panels: don’t find yourself uninsured
Finance Minister, Enoch Godongwana’s announcement regarding the launch of the National Treasury’s rebate scheme for new rooftop solar installations on private homes from 1 March 2023, has further increased the demand for renewable energy solutions by homeowners and in particular that of solar panel installations.
“There is however currently confusion and uncertainty amongst some body corporates and homeowner’s associations (HOA’s) when it comes to insuring solar installations. Some are not aware or have not been advised that they are able to cover solar panels under their existing building insurance policies. There are various cover options available and unless specified, the cost implications are minimal,” explains Hermanus van der Linde, CEO – IntegriSure Brokers.
For body corporates and HOA’s some of the options in the market are to insure a typical rooftop solar system or fixed generator by increasing the building sum insured with the replacement value of the system, which can be added to the Participation Quota (PQ). “The system will be covered in full for typical building risks such as fire, hail, impact and accidental damage.”
Other cover options include increasing the power-surge and/or exterior theft first loss limit to ensure that they are covered for all losses up to the chosen amount on a first loss basis. Another option that has been seen in the market is to add the solar system as a specified item with an additional premium payable which includes full building cover without limitations on theft and power-surge. “In this instance, the system should be specified at full replacement value.”
Those who live in residential estates or complexes need to obtain approval from body corporates or homeowners’ associations when looking to install solar. “As this is a new subject matter to deal with, combined with the current reality of unprecedented load shedding, it is very important to add this insurance matter to the agenda at upcoming AGM’s for members to understand the cover they will enjoy for solar panels, what it excludes and if there are any limitations.”
But, what are your options if your body corporate or HOA does not want to increase the sum insured of your building? “We are currently seeing reluctance from some body corporates and HOA’s to add installed solar panels to their building insurance, even though owners should insist that building sums insured be increased.”
If there is still resistance, residents and owners living in estates or complexes will need to take out cover for their solar panels on their personal policies. “We have seen various cover options in the market ranging from adding these solar panels to contents cover, to specifying it as an all risk item.”
Van der Linde cautions consumers as well as body corporates and HOA’s to ensure that solar systems are installed by a qualified, accredited installer who is able to issue a certificate of compliance as insurance companies and manufacturers may reject claims if the system is not installed by an accredited installer. “Reputable installers should have liability cover, product liability and cover against defective workmanship. When contacting solar installers ask to see their proof of liability cover.”
“We will continue to keep a close eye on the market for further trends and developments on this front and remain committed to providing comprehensive advice on the best insurance solutions for solar panels.”
“If you plan on investing in renewable energy installations ensure that you are adequately insured by talking to your broker for the best product options for peace of mind should something go wrong,” concludes van der Linde.
Dear Mr Ramokgopa: Ending the energy crisis shouldn’t stop our Just Energy Transition
After much anticipation, President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced the appointment of South Africa’s first Minister of Electricity, Kgosientsho Ramokgopa. With the new position introduced during the President’s State of the Nation address in February, Ramokgopa has now been given the thankless task of solving the country’s burgeoning energy crisis – or what Ramaphosa has termed an “existential threat” to both the country’s economy and the very foundations of our society. Considering how every hour of loadshedding costs the South African economy some R500-million in lost revenue, the pressure is on for Ramokgopa to make good on the President’s promises.
But as the debate over national leadership’s response rages on (i.e. the state of disaster, Karpowership, Eskom bailouts, etc.) it is important to consider that, while the energy crisis is indeed a foremost priority, so too is the need for a Just Energy Transition. What’s more, we recognise that these two focus areas are not mutually exclusive. On the contrary, the crisis has shown that renewables are playing a key role in fast-tracking additional supply. As a result, they are making important socio-economic contributions in a period of great market uncertainty, and in-turn accelerating South Africa’s progression towards a green(er) economy.
An obvious example of this is the explosive uptake of solar energy in recent weeks, propelled by households and businesses looking to get themselves off the grid. Supported with policy reform and new tax incentives, the sector is now unlocking new commercial opportunities for industry and consumers alike, with the construction of solar factories also resulting in new job opportunities for South Africans. With the proper support, similar outcomes can come from other renewable sources such as wind, which could deliver an additional 250 000 jobs and more than R150-billion in gross value-add to the economy over 25 years.
Likewise, the CEO of Anglo American – one of the leading coal mining operators in the country – believes that green hydrogen can add up to 14 000 jobs per year and unlock synergies with the platinum mining sector (which currently employs more than 170 000 people and would be expected to increase, thanks to platinum group metals being a key ingredient in the manufacture of hydrogen engines and batteries).
Together, these findings signal how the introduction of renewable energy can usher in not only advantages for the environment, but new revenue opportunities for businesses and new job opportunities for the unemployed too. Furthermore, the adoption of renewables stands to bolster South Africa’s economic security and competitiveness for the long-term, as our leading trading partners like the European Union threaten to impose significant import duties on goods manufactured in high-carbon energy markets where coal and non-renewables remain dominant.
More importantly, these developments show that while energy insecurity is an immediate crisis that demands a swift response, it does not dictate that South Africa abandon its efforts aimed at introducing a Just Energy Transition (JET). In fact, Ramokgopa can take direction from both the President and Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and Environmental Affairs, Barbara Creecy, who have publicly shared their alignment in this regard.
In his address to the nation, President Ramaphosa stated that South Africa “will continue [its] just transition to a low-carbon economy…” further adding that this would be done in a way that accounts for the current crisis and opens up the possibility of new investments, new industrialisation, and new jobs. This was echoed by Minister Creecy, who, during a panel discussion at the Mining Indaba in Cape Town, explained that national government remains committed to balancing the needs of the energy crisis with those of a just transition.
Admittedly, this will be no easy task for the new Minister, with opponents already calling on him for a laundry list of next steps. To this end, it would be wise for Ramokgopa to consult and partner with industry, which has the working knowledge, resources and networks needed to more efficiently solve the crisis and achieve JET. As a start, the Minister can simply tap into the partnerships already happening between players in the industry.
A good example of this is the ‘Innovation Partnership on Energy’, an initiative driven by Global Alliance Africa – a UK-Aid-funded project delivered by Innovate UK KTN. Over the past few months, Innovate UK KTN has organised several ‘Energy Advisory Brainstorms’ which brought together a group of representatives from energy producers and, among others, the likes of the CSIR, the Presidential Climate Commission, the South African National Energy Association, and the Department of Trade, Industry & Competition, and Department of Environment, Forestry & Fisheries. Together, they are exploring how innovation and international collaboration can be harnessed to unlock new opportunities for energy production and usage in South Africa.
Already, the group has identified several energy-innovation focus areas in which the public, private and civil sectors can collaborate towards:
First, innovation partnerships should be leveraged to support efforts aimed at developing a mix of small energy businesses and large corporations. A good mix of businesses will create space for more low-trained jobs, while leaving room for highly technical opportunities down the line. Second, that innovation partnerships should tap into global expertise and look to energy solutions from multinationals and foreign markets, where we are more likely to find successful use-cases and adaptable solutions to energy security and job creation. And third, that innovation partnerships can enhance policy redress, thanks to improved coordination across regulatory bodies and improved collaboration and knowledge sharing between industry players.
In doing so, the Innovation Partnership on Energy has also identified several first steps which South Africa should take in this regard:
Among these is the establishment of a ‘project help hub’ where businesses looking to enter the renewable energy space can receive technical and capacity-building support to equip both their operations and staff with the knowledge, resources and training they need to establish ‘green’ foundations. Another focus area is the development and implementation of new funding models (such as off-take agreements, project preparation grants, kick-starter funding, concessional debt funding, and other financial streams) to ensure that this process is well financed.
Additional priority areas include a focus on decarbonising hard-to-abate industrial sectors and creating new hydrogen commodities for export, such as green ammonia, sustainable aviation fuel, green steel, and green LPG, among others. Also, the development of South Africa’s workbench was also stressed, which entails identifying and attracting strategic foreign intellectual property rights holders to set up production houses in South Africa. Finally, we need to take active measures to stabilise the national grid on a smaller scale using many smaller solutions. Doing so will relieve the national utility of the sole burden of power generation, while also affording greater competition and stimulating innovation across energy fields.
These are just a few of the areas being investigated by Global Alliance Africa and the Innovation Partnership focusing on a JET. Their next step is to assist industry in the building-out of project plans, gathering of stakeholders to execute on them, and exploration of new funding mechanisms to enable movement. However, progress can only be achieved if we catalyse engagement from across the energy ecosystem. To this end, we call on Mr Ramokgopa and other players in the industry to collaborate with us, should working towards solving South Africa’s energy crisis and Just Energy Transition meet your mandate.
Electricity Minister launches Resource Plan to accelerate Energy Action Plan implementation
Minister in the Presidency for Electricity, Dr Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, says collaboration between government, business and society is imperative if South Africa is to overcome the current electricity crisis gripping the nation.
The Minister was speaking during the launch of the Resource Mobilisation Fund (RMF) on 9 March. The RMF is a collaborative effort between government and Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) to provide resources and expertise that will assist government to fully implement the Energy Action Plan.
“The establishment of the Resource Mobilisation Fund is a significant step in this regard. It is only through a collective national effort that we will be able to end loadshedding and enable our economy to grow.
“The RMF is an example of the collaborative approach between government and social partners which the President has always prioritised. Most importantly, it shows what we can achieve if we roll up our sleeves and go beyond debate and discussion to engage in real, practical action on the issues that confront our society,” he said.
Ramokgopa explained that the fund is expected to play a critical role in assisting government to implement government’s Energy Action Plan (EAP) with more drive.
“The RMF will provide crucial expertise and resources to turbocharge the work of NECOM [National Energy Crisis Committee] and ensure that we put the best minds in our country and indeed across the world to work on this problem.
“The tremendous support which this initiative has already received from businesses and philanthropies alike is evidence that we can work together as Team South Africa to get our country back on track. We look forward to a strong partnership with the RMF as we move to ensure swift and full implementation of the President’s plan,” he said.
Minister Ramokgopa said although the RMF comes as a boon for turning around the current energy crisis, government has already been hard at work to bring more urgently needed megawatts onto the power grid.
Some of the work done includes:
Eskom is implementing a detailed Generation Recovery Plan to improve its performance, focusing on six power stations that contribute the most to load shedding.
The licensing threshold for embedded generation projects has been removed which has opened the way for private investment in electricity generation.
A new determination for close to 1 5000MW of new generation capacity from wind, solar, and battery storage has been published and project agreements for 2 800MW from bid windows 5 and 6 have been signed.
A Request For Proposals for 513MW of battery storage has been released which will be followed shortly by the release of Bid Window 7.
The Minister of Finance has announced significant debt relief for Eskom totalling R254-billion, as well as a substantial fiscal support package, which includes tax incentives for businesses and households to invest in rooftop solar.
Red tape has been cut and the regulatory requirements for energy projects has been streamlined to reduce the time that it takes for new generation capacity to the grid.
Securing funding for the installation of rooftop solar for commercial enterprises
The large capital outlay for solar installations will require many businesses to approach financial institutions which, in turn, will need to consider the most suitable way to secure their investment.
By Mashudu Mphafudi, director and head and Michael Bailey, associate – Finance & Banking practice
It is estimated that stage 6 loadshedding is costing the economy as much as R900 million per day. Many businesses are looking to self-generate power through the installation of rooftop solar as a way to reduce the impact of loadshedding and possibly avoid retrenchments or, at worst, closing their doors.
In the 2023 state of the nation address, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced various measures to combat the country’s existential power crisis, including the declaration of a state of disaster, a new Minister of Electricity, and loans and incentives to move South Africans onto solar energy. The President said that the Government was “going to proceed with the rollout of rooftop solar panels”. The bounce back loan scheme, implemented initially to assist with the impact of COVID-19 pandemic, will now be used to assist with the rooftop solar rollout and allow banks and development finance institutions to borrow directly from the scheme to facilitate the leasing of solar panels to the customers.
The Minister of Finance announced in the 2023 Budget that from March 2023, businesses would be able to reduce their taxable income by 125% of the cost of an investment in renewables. The Government will guarantee solar-related loans for small and medium enterprises on a 20% first-loss basis, meaning that the Government will carry 20% of the loss on defaulted loans, so institutional lenders will not have to carry the entire loss. This has created a perfect storm of necessity and incentive for businesses to invest in self-generated renewable energy.
Security of the loan
As discussed in a previous alert, the initial capital cost risks being exclusionary without funding assistance. While clarity is sought on implementing the bounce back loan scheme to be launched in April 2023, lending institutions will play an integral role in assisting businesses to mitigate against the impact of ongoing loadshedding to allow businesses to own, install and operate rooftop solar.
It is common for lending institutions to require security for the loans to be advanced if a borrower defaults under a loan agreement. Although the Government will guarantee 20% of the defaulted loans, without additional security, a lender may not (in certain circumstances) be able to recover all the money borrowed under the loan agreement. It would be pragmatic to consider the circumstances of the borrower in order to assess the appropriate security to be provided by the borrower to the lender in a funding arrangement.
In our view, we would recommend that the lender consider the following securities when advancing loans for rooftop solar (the list below will have to be specific to a particular transaction and may differ from one to the other).
Special notarial bond
A special notarial bond (once registered) constitutes real security in the mortgaged property as effectively as if it had been expressly pledged and delivered to the holder of the right. A special notarial bond for tangible movable property must identify and describe the rooftop solar secured in a manner that makes the rooftop solar readily recognisable. A special notarial bond must satisfy the requirements outlined in the Security by Means of Movable Property Act 57 of 1993.
It must be noted that rooftop solar installation and construction will ordinarily occur after the lender advances the monies to the borrower. Accordingly, the special notarial bond will only be registered when construction has been completed and the rooftop solar is “readily recognisable”. If the borrower fails on its obligations under the loan agreement, the lender may have the property sold without having to approach a court for an order to that effect. The lender is regarded as a secured creditor, which means that no other creditor may attach the property serving as security specially. However, if the rooftop solar is not properly identified, the lender will rank as a concurrent creditor on the insolvency of the borrower.
General notarial bond
Unlike a special notarial bond, a general notarial bond is a mortgage by the borrower of all of its tangible movable property in favour of the lender as security for a debt or other obligation. However, a general notarial bond does not (in the absence of attachment of the property) make the lender a secured creditor of the borrower. It is not a true mortgage of movable property, but is a means of obtaining a limited statutory preference above the claims of concurrent creditors in the borrower’s insolvent estate.
Guarantee or suretyship
Guarantees and suretyships are a form of security for a principal obligation i.e. the due performance of the borrower for, inter alia, the repayment of the loan.
The decision to require a guarantee or suretyship will need to be considered on the basis of assets or balance sheet of the individual or company, respectively, providing the guarantee or suretyship to ensure that any enforcement on the guarantee or suretyship will cover the balance of the loan outstanding.
Cession in security
A cession in security is an agreement to be entered into between the borrower and lender in which the borrower will grant security over intangible movable property in favour of the lender. For more information on the different types of cession in security structures, see this previous article. The lender should consider a cession in security over:
· Bank accounts: The borrower will maintain bank accounts for managing its business and all amounts standing to credit of the accounts should be ceded.
· Project documents: Rooftop solar will need to be constructed and, eventually, it will provide a revenue source for the borrower or be used by the borrower to meet its electricity demands. The decision as to which project documents should be ceded will depend on the nature of the borrower’s business and the purpose of the rooftop solar.
· Debts: The borrower can cede all book debts, claims or receivables of whatsoever nature and howsoever arising (whether in contract, delict or otherwise).
Shareholder pledge and cession
As a company, the borrower is investing in its business through the installation of rooftop solar. This benefit is ultimately for the shareholders of the borrower. The lender should consider the pledge and cession of all the share capital held in the borrower and all claims of whatsoever nature which the borrower shareholders may have against the borrower.
Although less common, a lender may consider a (i) hire purchase transaction which usually includes an option for the lessee to purchase the rooftop solar for an agreed (and sometimes nominal) amount at the end of the period of the lease or (ii) an instalment sale where the borrower (as buyer) takes possession of the rooftop solar, but the title to the rooftop solar remains with the lender (as seller) until the purchase price (including the interest ordinarily associated with the loan agreement) has been paid in full. The major risk associated with a retention of title arrangement is ensuring that the lender takes the title to, and becomes the owner of, the rooftop solar from the supplier.
Security ordinarily required for a loan agreement such as a guarantee (or suretyship), a cession in security and shareholder pledge and cession should, at a minimum, be provided. Additionally, for:
· smaller rooftop solar projects with completion within one year of advancement of the loan, a lender should consider the registration of a special notarial bond; and
· larger rooftop solar projects where construction will take longer than a year from the advancement of the loan, the lender should require a general notarial bond until a special notarial bond can be registered.
Although the Government has intervened to incentivise rooftop solar installations through beneficial tax breaks and a partial guarantee, a lender must consider how best to protect the entire amount to be loaned to a borrower. The decision as to the exact security to be provided by the borrower must be considered on a case-by-case basis.
First utility scale commercial and industrial wind farm in South Africa
The ACED-IDEAS-REATILE Consortium has reached financial close with its lender Rand Merchant Bank on the 69MW Msenge Emoyeni Wind Farm.
This marks the effective date of the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) between Sasol South Africa Limited (“Sasol”) and Msenge for the supply of renewable energy to Sasol’s Sasolburg site via a wheeling arrangement. The power Sasol is purchasing from Msenge will be used to secure renewable energy supply for green hydrogen production.
African Clean Energy Developments (“ACED”) represents a consortium of co-sponsors and equity investors consisting of ACED, African Infrastructure Investment Managers (“AIIM”) and Reatile Renewables (Pty) Ltd (“Reatile”). ACED and AIIM are co-sponsors and the equity in Msenge is owned 62% by AIIM, through its flagship IDEAS Fund, and 38% by Reatile. Rand Merchant Bank, a division of FirstRand Bank Limited (“RMB”), has partnered the consortium as sole Mandated Lead Arranger for the project.
The Msenge Wind Farm is the first utility scale private wind farm in South Africa with its power wheeled across the national electricity grid. It is also the first of several renewables projects that the consortium intends to bring into construction in 2023. ACED is a leading renewable energy developer that has already spearheaded the delivery of more than 1 200MW of renewable energy under the Department of Minerals and Energy’s REIPPPP process and 30MW in the commercial and industrial market.
The energy will originate from Msenge wind farm, located near the town of Bedford, about 200km North of Gqeberha in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa. The farm was originally developed by Windlab South Africa but has been acquired, further developed and financially closed by ACED and AIIM. ACED will also manage construction and another AIIM affiliate, Energy Infrastructure Management Services (EIMS), will manage operations once construction is complete.
Aside from needing to resolve the country’s power crisis, the South African government has prioritised the manufacturing of green hydrogen for strategic industrial usage. Sasol, the ACED-IDEAS-Reatile Consortium and Msenge Wind Farm are playing a role in both. Green hydrogen is a key component of a low carbon energy sector which will enable the decarbonisation of critical sectors of South Africa’s economy. Sectors that will benefit include hard-to-abate industries such as transport, refining of metals and cement, heat generation and back-up power supply.
James Cumming, ACED’s General Manager, highlights: “ACED are very proud to have reached financial close and construction commencement on this much needed South African first, and we look forward to getting to the commercial operation date on Msenge for Sasol. It’s an amazing achievement by a large team of many businesses and advisors, that comes with a huge amount of hard work and sacrifice that we are very grateful for. We look forward to doing more of that in 2023 and beyond!”.
AIIM Investment Principal Sechaba Selemela noted that the transaction was significant as it represented AIIM’s ongoing commitment to finding alternative energy solutions to South Africa’s current electricity crisis.
“It also enables South Africa’s transition towards greater energy security based on clean energy production,” Selemela said.
Through the IDEAS Fund, AIIM has funded projects which together contribute around 25% of the renewable energy currently powering South Africa’s grid and abating higher levels of load shedding on a daily basis. The Fund currently has a renewable energy portfolio valued at more than R 10-billion.
South Africa’s energy crisis has a devastating impact on the country’s economy, with GDP declining by 0.7% in the 2nd quarter of 2022, according to Stats SA[ii]. Loadshedding is affecting food security, infrastructure and communication networks, as well as various key economic sectors, like mining, tourism, and manufacturing. Jan Fourie, Executive Vice President for Scatec in Sub-Saharan Africa, has described the conundrum as not just an energy crisis, but a fossil fuel dependency crisis.
“With abundant sunlight and wind resources, renewables present the optimal solution to our energy woes in SA. The urgency of the situation calls for increased private sector investment in renewable energy projects to fast-track the Department of Mineral and Energy Resources’ Integrated Resource Plan (IRP)[iii] and accelerate our economic recovery, by embracing the worldwide transition towards clean energy,” he asserts.
“The energy transition in South Africa has gained widespread public support, and the market may be looking to secure the necessary raw materials to fuel this shift in 2023.”
The significant upscaling in the production of lithium-ion batteries has made renewable energy price-competitive with fossil fuels, further driving the shift towards clean energy sources, Fourie adds, cautioning that the Covid-19 pandemic and the Ukraine war have seen supply chain spasms affecting commodities like nickel – a key component for Li-ion battery production.
“This could present an opportunity for SA’s metal producers to fill the global supply gap, potentially emerging as a key player in the new global metals market, and simultaneously driving a just energy transition locally,” he suggests.
In addition, innovations in storage technology have allowed renewable energy plants to produce stable, consistent, and dispatchable power, dispelling the myth that renewable energy is intermittent, or unreliable.
“Widespread investment into renewables, driven by strong tailwinds will offer businesses far more than a safety net against load-shedding,” Fourie advises, citing brand differentiation, stable energy prices, and the opportunity to fulfil corporate sustainability targets as just a few of the other potential benefits for the private sector.
“Embracing renewables is a key component of many successful businesses’ corporate social responsibility strategies, and tends to herald strengthened stakeholder relations, including with the local community, customers, and employees,” he expands.
New energy wheeling legislation and power purchase agreements such as the Renewable Independent Power Producer Programme, or REIPPPP (RMIPPPP) – under which Scatec are currently constructing three projects in Kenhardt in the Northern Cape with a combined solar capacity of 540 MW[iv] – Alleviating pressures on the nation’s energy mix.
Furthermore, the introduction of the green finance taxonomy (GFT) is bringing a measure of standardisation and transparency to the process of classifying and scoring SA’s green economic activities, helping facilitate a smooth equitable transition to a low-carbon, net-zero emissions economy,” adds Stian Kalsen, Communications Manager for Scatec.
In conclusion, the private sector in South Africa has a crucial role to play in driving the transition to renewable energy and leading the charge towards a cleaner, more sustainable future. With the growing public push for sustainability and the incentives and opportunities offered by new legislation, 2023 presents a golden opportunity for businesses to embrace renewable energy.
This will not only bring environmental benefits, but it also “has the potential to drive economic development, create jobs, enhance energy security, and buffer against the threats presented by load shedding, which is not going away in the foreseeable future,” Fourie states.
“Dispatchable renewable energy is available in South Africa right now, and it makes sense for businesses to invest in it. Already massive projects are underway that promise to protect early adopters from load shedding-related risks and help bring South Africans clean power for the future.”
“Renewables are a safe investment option for businesses at the microeconomic level, and at the macro-level, harnessing the country’s abundant sun and wind resources could hold the key to future-proofing South Africa’s energy sector,” he suggests.
“As we move into 2023, we hope to see the private sector in South Africa shift gears and stake their claim in a cleaner, more sustainable future with significant buy-in to renewables,” Fourie says.
How to maximise savings from your home solar system and slash your power bills
With costs falling, the average system size is growing rapidly. Households now typically install 8-10kW solar systems, often with a battery – roof area often limits the system’s size.
The solution is a matter of getting three things right:
Choosing efficient appliances
Using smart technology or simple timers to run them during times of ample solar generation
Choosing a retail electricity plan that best matches your use.
How much difference can appliances make?
To cut energy costs, the starting point is to understand your usage patterns.
Heating and cooling account for 30-45% of typical home energy use. Air conditioners use more energy as they age. Yet many homes have air conditioners older than ten years with 2-3 star ratings. Modern split systems use less than half as much electricity.
Users can program or control air conditioners remotely with a mobile phone to run for an hour or two before getting home. They then use cheap solar electricity to create a comfortable home. Smart and affordable controllers can also reduce cooling or heating when they sense a room is unoccupied or windows are open.
Typically, another quarter to a third of energy use is for water heating. Ample solar electricity and soaring gas prices make heat pump water heaters the best option. Again, they can be programmed to heat water at times of peak solar generation and store it, thus providing almost free hot water when needed.
Many other smart appliances and lights are available. Induction cooktops deliver fast and impressive results using little electricity. Along with the microwave, air fryer and pressure cooker, they can reduce energy use. Ovens and slow cookers can be programmed to use solar power and have meals ready when we get home.
As well as having options with high star ratings, appliances to wash and dry clothes and dishes can easily be set to run during sunshine hours.
Energy-efficient fridges also cut costs. However, while people are happy to buy such fridges, our researchsurvey found some keep the old one, using three to four times the electricity, for drinks.
Homes with swimming pools or spas are notorious for having the highest electricity bills. A pool will typically use 2 000-3 000kWh of electricity per year (depending on type of pump, hours of use and whether the pool is heated). Solar pool heaters are an excellent alternative. A simple timer switch can ensure most power is consumed during sunshine hours.
A typical outdoor spa uses 5kW for water heating and circulating. Much heat is lost to the surroundings if you let the thermostat keep it warm all the time. By installing a timer switch, you can use solar power for heating and have the spa ready for use after working hours.
Use smart technology to control time of use
The key to making the best use of your solar output is avoiding energy wastage and matching the timing of energy supply with household demand. An affordable smart control system – for the whole home or individual appliances – can do this.
This system can set seven-day schedules for all appliances. It can turn off lights and air conditioning after you leave home. On a hot day, it can lower blinds and switch on the ceiling fan and air conditioner before you return, then adjust the bedroom temperature for comfortable sleep.
With improved energy supply and demand forecasting and artificial intelligence, future controllers will provide the optimal energy options with little human intervention. If smart gadgets are not for you, consider simple timer switches.
Energy storage remains a key technology for enabling use at night and on days of no sunshine.
Another emerging technology is thermal batteries for heating and cooling. During sunshine hours a reverse-cycle air conditioner generates heat or cool to store in the thermal battery (commonly as hot or chilled water) for later use.
Electric vehicles that connect to the grid will go a long way towards making better use of rooftop electricity and storing it for evening use. Their battery capacity is several times that of home batteries.
Article courtesy The Conversation
Wasim Saman Emeritus Professor of Sustainable Energy Engineering, University of South Australia
Three Karpowership EIA applications refused, withdrawn or suspended halting company’s gas-to-electricity plans in SA
The Turkish-owned Karpowership fleet has been ‘struck’ by three potentially devastating ‘torpedo explosions’ after officials in Barbara Creecy’s national Department of Environmental Affairs suspended the approvals process or refused to authorise all three of the company’s gas-to-electricity proposals.
Now, short of urgent court appeals or political interventions to sweep environmental laws aside under cover of the new State of Disaster electricity regulations, the controversial Turkish plan may be dead in the water. The plan, estimated to have a price tag of around R220-billion, involves mooring up to nine Karpowership vessels in three local harbours (Richards Bay, Coega and Saldanha Bay) for the next two decades to provide “emergency power” supplies amid the national power supply collapse.
Creecy’s department confirmed late on Friday, 10 March that:
the Coega harbour application has been refused in its entirety.
the Richards Bay harbour application has been withdrawn for now by Karpowership’s environmental consultants (though Creecy’s department regards the application as “closed”.)
the Saldanha Bay application has been suspended after complaints that Karpowership environmental consultants submitted “misleading” information to Creecy’s department in its attempt to gain approval.
In a written statement, Creecy’s department said: “All information relevant to each of the (three) applications was thoroughly assessed in terms of the National Environmental Management Act.”
Neither Karpowership nor Minister Gwede Mantashe’s Department of Mineral Resources and Energy have responded to the latest bombshell announcement.
The Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment noted that Minister Creecy had remitted all three projects back to the “competent authority” in August so that the “various gaps in the information and procedural defects in relation to the public participation process” could be reconsidered and re-adjudicated.
Karpowership had resubmitted all three EIA applications on 9 January for decision-making.
However, Karpowership’s environmental consultant Hantie Plomp had written to the department on 2 March, asking that the revised Richards Bay EIA report be withdrawn for now. “The withdrawal is based on an urgent application by the (consultant) for condonation to comply with regulatory timeframes in terms of Section 47C of the National Environmental Management Act (Nema) submitted to Minister Creecy on 24 February, 2023.”
Regarding the Saldanha application, the environment department had received a formal complaint from the Green Connection environmental group “alleging suspected non-compliance” with EIA Regulations.
“As a result, the application has been suspended by the competent authority so that the veracity of the allegations can be probed. Letters have been issued to the environmental assessment practitioner for Karpowership-SA and to The Green Connection. The decision on this application will be based on the outcome of the investigation.”
Significantly, the environmental authorisation for Coega was “refused” in its entirety on 7 March.
The full reasons for refusing the Coega application are here.