Multi-billion rand renewable energy sector boost for EC

The Department of Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism MEC Sakhumzi Somyo announced today that the East London Industrial Development Zone (IDZ) is to develop its own wind farm which will produce in excess of three million kilowatt-hours per annum.

In presenting his policy, MEC Somyo said that the entity, which was working with a local wind turbine manufacturer, would save R98 million in electricity costs over 20 years and strengthen energy security for its industries.

Somyo also reiterated the province’s continuing interest in shale gas, saying that the province’s research partner, the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, was making history with a first-ever forensic baseline of ground-water chemistry and three-dimensional image of the Karoo’s deep sub-surface.

These developments follow a litany of renewable energy milestones which has seen the province develop a sizeable renewable energy footprint with its independent power producers (IPP) securing licenses for 12 wind farms and one solar farm.

He pointed out that while renewable energy production had the effect of securing electricity supply for the province, the IPPs’ enterprise and social development programmes amounted to R1.6 billion which would benefit local communities over the 20 year life of the projects.

It would also create over 10,400 jobs (for one year) over their lifetime, with 1,220 jobs at peak construction.

Local content, which was to be procured from within the province, was projected at R7.5 billion and would stimulate the development of localised industries and the green economy.

Already eight manufacturers were established in the province; the three manufacturers are in the East London and Coega Industrial Development zones, and represented a combined investment of over R1 billion.

Energy security has also been given a further boost at the Coega Industrial Development Zone where the R3,5 billion Dedisa Peaking Power Plant confirmed that it expected to go online later this year. During construction, this project created more than 1,000 jobs. This plant would generate 342 mega-watts of electricity through its open-cycle gas turbines.

Somyo pointed to the need for skills development in this area, and said that in one such initiative, the University of Fort Hare with the Department of Science and Technology was implementing a R9 million biogas project which generates electricity from the waste of the university’s piggery. In time, this electricity will power a university agripark where a community cooperative dries vegetables.

The university is working on a project with the South African National Energy Development Institute where it is to install 110 household biogas digesters. The project will also allow for the training and contracting of local installers.

Somyo added that other sectors which the province believed were the most promising for boosting the economy and created jobs were the agro sector and “ocean economy”.