South Africa needs to set ambitious renewable energy targets and implement feed-in-tariffs (Refit) to drive the implementation of rewewable energy policy and increase investment in the sector, World Wildlife Fund representative Richard Worthington said on Thursday.
The National Energy Regulator of South Africa is expected to announce its decision on the Refit at the end of this month.
Speaking at a Renewable Energy Summit, Worthington commented that the objectives currently driving renewable energy policy in the country were job creation, energy security, economic competitiveness, mobilising local investment, attracting foreign direct investment, conserving the world’s finite hydro-carbon resources and the diminishing quality of the country’s water, soil and air.
Further, he noted that climate change also played a big role. Worthington explained that South Africa’s carbon emissions currently equated ten megatons a person a year, which is high.
The country was aiming to reduce its carbon emissions by about 15% by 2020 and the development and implementation of renewable energy projects would play a large role in assisting to reach this target.
Meanwhile, sustainable development organisation GZT representative Marlett Balmer said that greater political will and support was needed to promote the sector in South Africa.
Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership Southern Africa secretariat Amanda Luxande added that regional cooperation in sub-Saharan Africa, as well as international support, would boost the local industry.
She noted that it was time to scale up investment and to secure international partnerships.
Balmer said that international donors were willing to invest in the South African industry, adding that skills and expertise transfer would also assist the local industry.
However, she commented that donors would have to take cognisance of the countries they would be investing in and what the local conditions were. South Africa, for example, was a coal-based economy and donors would have to consider investing in clean-coal technologies, she said.
Renewable energy consultant Helene Gron asserted that South Africa could learn many lessons from European countries like Spain, Germany and Denmark, which all had established renewable energy markets that have contributed to job creation.
The rationale for the establishment of renewable energy projects had to be clear, while ambitious and specific targets had to be set for specific technologies and technical applications, she asserted.
Further, long-term commitments by government and securing viable long-term financing for the projects were also essential.