S African industry body proposes use of wind energy to deal with power shortage

Mainstream Renewable Power 158-MW wind park in Senegal

December 16 (Renewables Now) - The South African Wind Energy Association (SAWEA) last week said the government has a number of options to use wind power to deal with the power capacity shortage the country is facing.

Eskom, the South African public utility, recently implemented Stage 4 load shedding, which means that about 40% of its generating capacity was not available at the beginning of last week.

As short-term measures to deal with the power shortage, SAWEA proposes that the maximum export capacity on operational wind farms is lifted so that the government can use the additional energy. Excess capacity of about 500 MW from operational wind farms can be used immediately at a marginal cost of ZAR 0.40 (USD 0.028/EUR 0.025) per KWh, according to the industry body.

In addition to allowing wind farms to export additional capacity into the national grid, the government could use power from wind farms that are currently under construction. Escom could buy the "early generation" electricity at a rate about 40% lower than the agreed tariff, SAWEA noted.

Another option is for the wind sector to be allowed to provide power under private power purchase agreements (PPAs) to intensive energy users.

Load shedding costs South Africa more than ZAR 2 billion a day, SAWEA noted. Load shedding is a sign that Eskom fleet's electricity availability factor has declined, which means that new generation capacity is necessary. However, while the wind industry waits for approval to begin constructing new wind parks, it can only offer short-term solutions, the industry body concluded.

(ZAR 10.0 = USD 0.70/EUR 0.65)

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Before joining Renewables Now, Alex was a UK-focused business news reporter. Now she is covering global news from the renewable energy industry with a special interest in M&A.

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