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SA has potential to beat its renewable energy target

Published May 26, 2011


The government this year raised its draft target for renewable energy generation to 23 percent of new capacity by 2030, but Greenpeace said yesterday that it was possible to more than double this to 49 percent. And to do so without embracing nuclear power.

The environmental group yesterday released an “advanced energy scenario” for South Africa in which it says 94 percent of the country’s energy needs could be sourced from renewable energy by 2050.

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The report was developed in conjunction with specialists from the German Aerospace Centre’s Institute of Technical Thermodynamics and the European Renewable Energy Council, among others.

By adopting a higher renewables target, South Africa could create about 150 000 jobs in the next two decades. And with greater energy efficiency and reliance on renewable energy, it could cut its carbon emissions by 64 percent by 2050 to just over 100 million tons, Greenpeace says.

“This report clearly demonstrates that there is no technological barrier to achieving a pathway to 100 percent renewable energy. In fact, with the political will and South Africa’s abundance of renewable energy resources, the country could easily become the renewable energy leader in Africa,” the organisation says.

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The Greenpeace report significantly raises the bar for renewable energy targets outlined thus far in the government’s integrated resource plan.

The potential for a bigger target was clear too from comments yesterday by Tulsi Tanti, the chairman of Indian wind turbine manufacturer Suzlon, which hopes to replicate its success as market leader in India and Brazil once South Africa’s independent power production kicks off.

Tanti says that the current global norm is that up to 25 percent of electricity produced from renewable sources can be fed into the grid without any adaptations.

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Comair has delayed the launch of its new services to Gaborone and Maputo from privately owned Lanseria Airport because commercial terms with the airport have not yet been finalised. It has also asked the airport management for a commitment to start construction of a second runway and upgrade the infrastructure.

The service to Gaborone was due to start on Tuesday and bookings had been made. Stuart Cochrane, Comair’s executive manager for network development and alliances, said the flights to Gaborone and Maputo would now start on September 1. Bookings were already being taken.

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Would-be passengers who have booked to fly on these routes before that date are being offered the choice of a full refund or a booking on or after September 1. Low-cost airline Mango is due to start services between Cape Town and Lanseria at the beginning of June. Rival low-cost airline 1Time, which flies to Maputo from OR Tambo International Airport, fought for access to Lanseria at a time when Comair’s low-cost airline, had exclusive use for its flights from there to Cape Town.

But 1Time has delayed moving into the airport after deciding it would be too congested and has asked for the provision of a new runway, lounge and more parking.

Local airlines including SAA have struggled, for years, to obtain air traffic rights to fly to more countries in Africa, but have been kept out of some by protectionism for small national airlines.

But this situation is beginning to change and air traffic rights have recently been granted to other airlines to fly into Mozambique, Angola and Zanzibar. Comair wanted its service to Gaborone to be operated by, but the Botswana government preferred it to be served by the full-service British Airways operator.


Smuts Ngonyama is a Cope MP who sprang back to life during the recent elections as his party’s mayoral candidate in Nelson Mandela Bay Metropole. After his party garnered just 5 percent of the vote in the city – against the DA’s 40 or so percent and the ANC’s nearly 52 percent – he will no doubt be scurrying back to the relative calm of Parliament.

However, a parliamentary question he asked on the estimates of national expenditure was answered during the election campaign. He had asked Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel when the minister’s advisory panel on domestic and international economic development had been established and “what are the further details?”

Patel said it had been started over a year ago and listed the names of the panellists – Nobel economics laureate and former World Bank economist Joseph Stiglitz; Professor Haroon Bhorat of the University of Cape Town; Dr Michael Power, an Investec Bank strategist; Professor Chris Molikane from Wits, who has withdrawn to become a national planning commissioner; as well as Olive Shisana, the Human Sciences Research Council chief executive; Geoffrey Qhena, the Industrial Development Corporation chief executive; Simon Roberts, Competition Commission chief economist; and Neva Makgetla, the lead economist in the development planning division of the Development Bank of Southern Africa, who has recently been appointed deputy director-general in the Department of Economic Development.

Power has just warned Patel, in a speech to Investec clients, that South Africa needs to ensure that wage rates are competitive, particularly as it has joined the group of the world’s largest and fastest-growing emerging markets: Brazil, Russia, India and China.

He argued against worker elitism with workers being paid far more than in competing economies. The rand also needed to be promoted at levels that made local manufactured exports far more competitive.

Ngonyama also needs to be more visible in Parliament when he returns to the benches today after a long election recess – and ask Patel more probing questions.

Edited by Peter DeIonno. With contributions from Ingi Salgado, Audrey D’Angelo and Donwald Pressly.

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