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Renewables will not provide South Africa with 100% of its power, for the foreseeable future


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Renewables will not provide South Africa with 100% of its power, for the foreseeable future

Photo of a wind turbine

12th October 2022

By: Rebecca Campbell
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor


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Mineral Resources and Energy Department director-general Jacob Mbele has warned that supporters of renewable energy could actually undermine the sector in South Africa. He was participating in a panel discussion at the Windaba 2022 wind-power conference, in Cape Town, on Wednesday morning.

“The renewable energy sector must avoid overpromising and underdelivering,” he cautioned. The industry had to keep a careful eye on those who, in their enthusiasm for renewable energy, exaggerated its capabilities. Such exaggeration did more harm than good, and when “reality hits”, critics of renewables would claim that they didn’t work.


“To me, it’s a fallacy or myth to have 100% renewable energy,” added ENERTRAG South Africa Project Development head Mercia Grimbeek. South Africa’s future energy would come from a mix of sources. Renewables would indeed be a big part of that future mix, with wind being the dominant element within the renewables category.

“These [renewables] projects take time,” pointed out Mbele. “They won’t happen tomorrow.” The reality was that the immediate option, that the country had, was to get “the units out there” to produce “some megawatts”.


Grimbeek noted that the energy sector had to defer to the government’s Integrated Resource Plan (IRP). The current iteration was the IRP 2019, which was developed, Mbele observed, after inputs from stakeholders from around the country. A process to revise the IRP was currently under way, and this would provide opportunities for stakeholders to provide fact-based inputs – inputs had to be evidence-based.

“As an industry, for a long time, we’ve been asking for policy certainty,” said South African Photovoltaic Industry Association chairperson Chanda Nxumalo. Now, they had it. Now, the need was to implement that policy.

It was, Grimbeek affirmed, all about collaboration. The renewable energy sector couldn’t achieve anything if it didn’t engage with the government and other stakeholders. What was now needed were conversations about policy implementation.     


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