Globally, the case for the Green Economy has been made abundantly clear.
Renewable energy is the only electricity generation technology whose price has decreased dramatically, with solar PV module prices falling by 80% during the past five years, while wind turbines have become 30% less expensive. South Africa’s wind resources are regarded as amongst the top five in the world and could sustain 25% of our grid’s capacity. Furthermore, it is estimated that by 2020 the price of wind and solar PV will be at least R0-50/kwh, unlike Eskom’s Medupi power station, which - once completed - will charge close to R1-10/kwh.
KwaZulu-Natal is an energy-hungry province and consumes in excess of 6 700 MW of electricity and to maintain predicted economic growth rates of between 6% and 7%, the province requires between 400MW and 470MW more electricity every year.
The province’s renewable energy sector incorporates a host of sustainable solutions and includes the installation and supply of solar water heaters and heat pumps, solar energy, biomass, biogas, bio-fuels, wind, hydro and energy efficiency measures.
This is further stimulated by public sector initiatives and research services geared to incentivise investment in the renewable energy sector. Major solar, bio-gas and hydropower projects are also paving the way for future development and investment and currently the net cumulative value of potential renewable energy investments in KwaZulu-Natal stands at R3,2 billion.
Possibly the biggest competitive advantage that KwaZulu-Natal possesses is that which emanates from the sugar and timber industries, which are amongst the largest in the country. The South African Sugar Association (SASA) is ready to engineer an investment of R20 billion to R30 billion, which would not only maintain sugar production, but result in the development of two major new energy industries, being electricity co-generation and fuel-ethanol production. This would lead to the creation of numerous new employment opportunities within, particularly, rural communities within the province.