Wednesday, July 21, 2010

'Wind Atlas' Announced at Clean Energy Ministerial

Energy Minister Dipuo Peters, left, used the first-ever ‘Clean Energy Ministerial' meeting, which took place in Washington DC this week, to announce that South Africa would in August release a comprehensive ‘wind atlas', as well as a ‘carbon dioxide (CO2) geological storage atlas.'

The meeting was hosted by US Energy Secretary Steven Chu and attended by delegations from 24 countries, representing 80% of global energy consumption. The atlas would identify potential sites and provide "accurate information" on the wind resources within the country - information that could be used by potential renewable-energy investors. South Africa is in the final stages of drafting an integrated resource plan for electricity, dubbed ‘IRP2010', which will provide an energy-mix road map for the next two decades.

Potential investors are still awaiting: the IRP2010; finality on the rules governing power purchase agreements; as well as the assurances that the playing fields will be levelled through the creation of a single buyer that is ring-fenced from South Africa's power utility, Eskom. Eskom is currently designated as the single buyer of power arising from independent power producers (IPPs), whether conventional, or renewable.

However, 92,8% of South Africa's power is still derived from coal, a higher percentage than most countries. Further, much of South Africa's transport fuel is also derived from coal, making the domestic economy one of the world's most carbon heavy globally. In 2009/10, Eskom alone burned some 122.7-million tons of coal and produced 224.7-million tons of CO2, while generating 232 812 GWh of electricity. (Engineering News, 7/21/2010)

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