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The Story of South Africa’s Global Energy Coup

“The Story of South Africa’s Global Energy Coup” – that is the title of the introduction to the special supplement in South Africa’s leading financial publication, the Business Day of 31 October 2016, which provides extensive detailing and commemoration of 5 years of South Africa’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer (REIPP) procurement programme. REIPP has procured 6,800 MW of renewable energy generation, with roughly 40% of that already generating electricity. The introduction reflects on “the miracle of South Africa’s renewable energy programme over the past five years” noting that “the scale of what has been achieved in South Africa’s renewable energy programme is simply mind-blowing”.

One of the more interesting points noted how globally the South Africa program is considered not just a success but an example for other nations to follow. Yet this revolution has largely gone unrecognised.

The supplement puts it this way, “Imagine 200 hectares covered in photovoltaic solar panels. That’s about 400 football fields…. There is now not just a few, but 25 projects of that size or bigger already built or being built across South Africa, and many smaller ones. Then there is the wind energy farms. Most wind turbines are around 100m high, the same height as London’s Big Ben, with blades that each span more than 40m. There are more than 1,500 such windmills already erected or being erected across the country. Then there are the spectacular concentrated solar plants that direct the sun’s rays either on to a tube in a curved mirror, or towards a tall tower in the centre of a field of mirrors …So far R194m has been invested by both the private and public sectors to make it happen, a large chunk of that has come in the form of foreign direct investment…Using an approach inspired by South Africa’s, last month Abu Dhabi announced a new world record low price for a photovoltaic solar plant of 2.42 US cents/kw equivalent to 34 South African cents. The new Medupi and Kusile coal-powered stations, when they come fully online, are forecast to cost between 100 and 120c/kWh.

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Disclaimer: Statements in this article should not be considered investment advice, which is best sought directly from a qualified professional.