Has Eskom forgotten that wind energy saved Eskom R300 million during the first half of 2015?
Eskom CEO Brian Molefe recently criticised renewables as having ‘failed’ Eskom by not providing the necessary power to avoid load-shedding at the right time of day.
In his comments, Molefe seemed to forget the significant contribution that was made by wind and solar energy projects during peak load-shedding periods during 2015.
“From January to June 2015, wind energy alone saved Eskom R300 million through avoided purchases of coal and diesel. Between them, wind and solar energy avoided entirely, delayed, or prevented a higher stage of load shedding for a full 15 days,” explains South African Wind Energy Association Chairperson, Heather Sonn.
These figures, from an independent report by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), will have subsequently increased in terms of wind energy contributed to the grid and the tariffs will have decreased significantly, as many more renewable energy projects are now providing energy to the grid.
In her recent budget speech, Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson hailed the government’s renewable energy programme an unprecedented success story. She shared latest figures showing that the contribution to the electricity grid from renewable energy developments in full operation is growing constantly and has now reached 16% of total energy produced in the peak periods of morning and evening in any 24-hour period.
“Four years ago there were just 10 wind turbines in the country – now we have more than 500 turbines - 14 large wind farms in operation providing more than 1 gigawatt (GW) of electricity to Eskom’s grid. There are many more wind farms under construction with more than 3GW in total already procured. This is a major success story for the country,” continues Sonn:
“In terms of cost, tariffs for wind energy in the most recent Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP) bidding round were close to 50% lower than those predicted for Eskom’s new coal power stations. Furthermore, wind farms can typically be constructed and generating electricity in less than 18 months, in comparison with Eskom’s new coal power stations which have been plagued with long delays and large overspending of budgets.”
South Africa has an excellent wind resource, and more than 80% of the country’s land mass provides high enough wind speeds, and therefore electricity, to deliver affordable cost competitive energy to the grid.
“The daily energy demand profile for South Africa includes a morning peak that occurs between 05:00 to 09:00 in the morning, and an evening peak which ranges from 17:00 to 21:00. Research conducted by the CSIR shows wind speeds are usually highest during the morning and evening peak with a midday reduction in wind speed at which point the benefits of Solar PV come to the fore. Statistically, the wind has a far greater contribution over the evening peak. As the attached graph from March 2016 shows, pick-up is normally around 15:00 and there is a rapid linear increase in wind speed until around 18:00 at which point it moderates until after 21:00 which makes it an ideal counter in terms of evening peak,” explains SAWEA technical working group chair Chris Billingham [please see attached graph showing wind generation during March 2016].
In summary, the South African REIPPPP has successfully managed to procure 6377 MW of renewable energy to-date, and has been hailed as a global success. Wind and solar power already provides much needed electricity to the country’s grid network and the projects have been constructed on time and on budget. Bid windows 1-4 have attracted R200 billion of private investment, with another R55 billion expected with the 1800 MW ‘expedited’ window 4, due to be announced in quarter 2. Shareholding for local communities has already reached an estimated net income of R29.2 billion over the 20 year-plus lifespan of the projects.
Projects from REIPPPP bid windows 1-4 have committed to delivering 8451 job years during the construction phase, but actual figures stand 70% higher at 14,334 new jobs. The majority of these jobs are in rural provinces.
Recent figures also showed that the R30.7 billion spent on BBBEE during construction of projects during the programme so far has already exceeded the R26.6 billion that had originally been anticipated.
“It is hard to imagine, in the context of the above, how this thriving wind industry could be considered anything other than an unqualified success,” concludes Sonn. “SAWEA is a wind-energy trade association and our members understand the challenges of needing to make commercial transactions viable while delivering a low-cost energy source and that this is in the greater interest of economic growth. To date, we have been proud of these achievements and will continue to deliver to this joint mandate.”
Wind Daily Prevalence March 2016 Graph.pdf
Please see attached graph showing wind energy’s contribution to the grid during March 2016.
The full CSIR report referred to can be found on the CSIR website here