South Africa’s wind energy industry, through its representative body, the South African Wind Energy Association (SAWEA) has put its voice of support behind the green financing deal backed by rich nations announced at COP26 climate talks last week. The deal which comprises multi and bi-lateral grants, concessional loads, guarantees and private investment, will provide impetus for South Africa’s accelerated uptake of green energy.
“We view our sector as a key implementer for the country to decarbonise its power sector and increase its energy availability. Hence, we look to the various policy makers within the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy; and the Department of Public Enterprises to facilitate and lead this transition, which will no doubt be abetted by this financing deal,” said Mark Tanton, SAWEA Board Member.
The US$8,5 billion package, committed by the UK, France, Germany and the USA, is intended to speed South Africa’s transition away from coal and represents a new model of green financing for emerging economies. This forms part of the global ‘Accelerating Coal Transition Investment Programme’, formulated by the Climate Investment Funds (CIF). The programme is the first to target developing countries that lack adequate resources to finance the shift away from coal, which is crucial to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2030.
“This makes sense as sustainable, cost effective financing, is necessary to enable developing countries to be able to implement their climate change mitigation targets and accelerate the required energy transition away from carbon-intensive power production to renewable energy,” added Tanton, who also reiterated that this announcement coincides with the expected parliamentary tabling of South Africa’s Climate Change Bill this month.
Whilst many details as to the structuring of the funds and exactly how it will be utilized are still to be ironed out, SAWEA notes there are a number of considerations. This includes what is referred to as the ‘Just Energy Transition’, which looks at the effect on people resulting from decommissioning coal-fired power stations, as well as Eskom’s need to upgrade and add new transmission lines and renew its distribution network to accommodate additional green electrons.
“In a nutshell, we need to remove CO2 from the atmosphere as fast as possible, and at the same time we need to drastically increase our Energy Availability Factor, so that we can bring a halt to the ongoing and crippling load shedding. The answer to all of this is a renewables-dominated power system, which is also the most cost-competitive system for South Africa,” concluded Tanton.