Sonn’s ‘lofty’ renewable energy ideals

  / 20 October 2015 at 07:02am

Melanie Gosling | Environment Writer

HEATHER Sonn,  chair of  the SA Wind Energy Association’s (Sawea) board, is upbeat about renewable energy – and not just because costs have come down to make it competitive with coal.

What makes this form of electricity generation different are the spin-offs for socio-economic development.

“And I am also struck by the alignment of renewable energy with several international policies, such as alignment with the Sustainable Development Goals,” Sonn said.


The value of combining CSP with wind power

CSP today – Business Intelligence
April 2015

Amid growing awareness of the value of combining different renewable energy sources, to what extent does it make sense to marry up CSP with wind?

By Jason Deign

An increasing appreciation of the potential for combining CSP with PV is leading to the question: what about wind? Wind power and CSP rarely get considered together. But a close scrutiny of the cost of storing wind power reveals there could be a case for hybrid plants.

“It’s not quite as complementary [as PV],” said Kevin Smith, chief executive officer at SolarReserve, and there are “higher intermittency issues,” but wind power has the advantage of being even cheaper than PV. “It really is about cents per kilowatt an hour.”

As with PV, the main reason for adding CSP to a wind farm is to take advantage of the potential for low-cost energy storage using molten salts. Wind power is, if anything, even more intermittent than PV. Grid operators currently deal with this intermittency in a variety of ways.

At low levels of penetration, it is usually enough to rely on day-ahead forecasting to assess output and ramp other forms of generation up or down as needed to compensate for the variable power coming off wind farms.

And over large enough regions, ups and downs in production in one place tend to be balanced out by ups and downs elsewhere. As wind power penetration grows, however, there is an increasing need to curtail excess production so as not to overload the grid.

In places with favourable geography, an alternative to curtailment is to use pumped hydro storage to store excess output for use later on. This has been highly successful in markets such as Spain, where wind power accounted for a fifth of all energy generation in 2014.

But pumped hydro is unlikely to be an option in many desert environments where CSP, conversely, might be well suited. Furthermore, the other option for storage, batteries, is still far from being cost effective.

As an example, Southern California Edison’s Tehachapi Energy Storage Project, where batteries store wind energy, delivers 32 megawatt-hours of storage and cost a reported USD$49.9 million, which translates to more than $1,500 per kilowatt-hour.

Present-day costs

The SolarReserve Crescent Dunes project, in comparison, has 35 times as much storage, includes energy generation and cost less than $150 million (for the molten salt circuit), making it about a tenth of the price of Tehachapi on a like-for-like basis. And that is on present-day costs.

In the near future, however, CSP plants could become much cheaper. SolarReserve estimates that compared to Crescent Dunes it can reduce the cost of its upcoming Redstone project in South Africa by 20% through heliostat design advances alone.

Many CSP observers agree that it makes sense to see CSP as complementing rather than competing with other renewable generation sources, including wind.

In a LinkedIn debate sparked by a CSP Today story on competition between CSP and wind, for example, a number of experts came forward to defend putting the two together and in particular making better use of the heat output from solar thermal plants.

“Wind and CSP are two different forms of energy which can be used for different applications,” said Michael Goth, general manager at STEAG Energy Services in Germany.

“Developers need to determine the best mix to maximise these resources and perhaps storage is the meeting ground for the chosen systems,” chimed Nigel Spink, a former senior project manager with ABB.

“The output, whether it is electrical energy, heating, cooling on a local or district level, or desalination, may depend upon the location.”

Hybrid projects

Despite this apparent level of appreciation for the synergies between CSP and wind, developers have yet to propose any hybrid projects of note. But it is worth highlighting that some major CSP players also have significant experience in wind power, particularly in Spain.

Acciona, for example, is known for its expertise in wind as well as PV, hydro and biomass project development. FCC Energy, meanwhile, has a portfolio of 14 wind farms with an installed capacity of almost 421MW on top of its two 50MW CSP projects.

Grupo TSK and Ibereólica are among other Spanish firms that have significant track records in both CSP and wind project development.

What these companies perhaps lack is SolarReserve’s track record in molten salt power tower designs, which are arguably the best in terms of storage capability.

But the Spanish companies are catching up fast: at Ouarzazate in Morocco, for example, Acciona and TSK are working with Sener and Aries on a project for ACWA Power that will include a power tower with molten salt storage.

Given the diversity of project experience in these companies, it is perhaps just a matter of time before one of them proposes a development combining CSP with wind.

“One may expect that local communities in desert countries will actively drive small wind and solar energy applications,” confirmed Paul van Son, country chairman for RWE in the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey.


Alternative renewables funding to be considered as sector matures

Engineering News
14 July 2015


 Alternative funding models could be expected to begin coming to the fore in South Africa’s renewable-energy sector as the market becomes more competitive and domestic development finance institutions (DFIs) begin scaling back their direct involvement in projects.

Speaking to Spanish investors during a recent mission to South Africa, Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) industrial infrastructure head Lizeka Matshekga reported the State-owned financier is shifting gears in relation the Renewable Energy Independent Producer Power Procurement Programme (REIPPPP).

The IDC has hitherto played a major role in developing the industry, having supported 24 projects with financial commitments totalling R14-billion.

In total, 92 renewables projects, with a combined nameplate capacity of 6 243 MW, have been procured since the announcement of the first REIPPPP preferred bidders in late 2011 and the Department of Energy has indicated that the programme has resulted in investment commitments of R193-billion.

Matshekga indicates that the IDC began paring back its involvement during the fourth bid window of the REIPPPP and that it intends increasingly refocusing its resources towards the localisation of the components used in renewable-energy projects.

“We will still play a role, but not at the level of the past,” she explains, adding that the shift is reflected in the consolidation of the green industries under the more broadly focused industrial infrastructure business unit. The unit aims to support the infrastructure needs of the mining and metals, chemicals and pharmaceuticals and agroprocessing value chains both in South Africa and the rest of the continent.

This shift in strategy could have significant consequences, particularly in light of Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson’s decision that a further 6 300 MW of renewables capacity be procured beyond the projects procured under previous government determinations.

Standard Bank renewable energy, power and infrastructure head Rentia van Tonder says that at least another R160-billion will have to be invested by independent power producers to meet the additional 6 300 MW determination.

“I cannot see the commercial banks doing that on their own,” Van Tonder argues. “The introduction of Basel 3 acts as a constraint on the amount of long-term debt South African banks can take on their balance sheet and this effect will indirectly support the development of a secondary market.”

Van Tonder believes the DFIs still have a significant direct role to play, particularly in providing equity finance, but also in supporting black economic empowerment community development and funding for black industrialists in the sector. “To grow the renewable-energy sector and take it to the next level, I believe everybody will need to play their role.”

However, in light of the changing environment she says different models could be considered in future, including options that seek to tap the debt capital markets.

One possible alternative is the creation of so-called ‘yieldcos’, which would be publicly traded corporations that hold operating assets that generate long-term, low-risk cash flows, which are distributed to investors as dividends.

“The sector has grown to the point where we have to look at alternative funding models and, as a bank, we are looking at various structures,” Van Tonder explains.


Not-for-profit model to be deployed at 33 MW Wesley-Ciskei wind project

Engineering News
22 June 2015



The 33 MW Wesley-Ciskei wind project, selected recently as part of the enlarged fourth bid window under South Africa’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producers Procurement Programme (REIPPPP), will be the first to be developed in partnership with land owners and farmers in the former Ciskei Homeland area of the Eastern Cape.

In early June, the Department of Energy (DoE) extended the allocation to a further 13 solar photovoltaic and wind projects with a collective nameplate capacity of 1 084 MW. The allocation was additional to the 13 round-four projects selected in April with a combined capacity of 1 121 MW.

The Wesley-Ciskei project will be jointly developed by not-for-profit organisation Just Energy, initially established by the Bank of America Foundation and Oxfam, and InnoWind, a subsidiary of EDF Energies Nouvelles, of France.

The project, which is expected to be operational towards the end of 2017, will feature ten wind turbines. InnoWind CEO Martin Webb says it will be the first REIPPPP project developed on community land in a former Homeland, which could “open the door to more renewable-energy projects in some of the less economically developed rural areas”.

Just Energy CEO Neil Townsend adds that the project also represents the first time that the organisation’s “unique” business model will be deployed – the model is designed to ensure that a substantial portion of project revenues are re-invested back into equity for the local community.

“We started Just Energy with the belief that if clean energy projects were to be distributed around the country, then there was a fantastic opportunity for low-income communities to be involved in the ownership of those projects, so that some of the income created would stay in the local economy and help to build those communities,” Townsend explained.

He, therefore, applauds the recognition offered under the REIPPPP for projects with high local ownership, while expressing the hope that the programme will evolve in a way that ensures higher levels of “real project ownership by low-income communities”. 

South Africa’s wind fleet grows to 294 turbines, association targets 2 500 by 2020

Engineering News
17 June 2015

By: Terence Creamer


South Africa has increased its installed base of wind turbines from eight in 2012 to 294 currently, and the South African Wind Energy Association (Sawea) is advocating that 2 500 turbines be installed by 2020 to lower the risk of load-shedding, increase private generation and diversify the country’s coal-dominant electricity mix.

In a short film titled ‘Seven amazing facts about wind power in South Africa’ released to mark the seventh year that Sawea was commemorating Global Wind Day, the association outlined the technology’s socioeconomic and price advantages.

In an associated statement, CEO Johan van den Berg also noted that all the turbines had been “built with private money”, with R55-billion invested over the past three years in projects procured under South Africa’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP).

Wind and solar photovoltaic projects had emerged as the dominant technologies deployed across the 92 renewables projects procured to date through the REIPPPP. Collectively these had resulted in investment commitments of R193-billion following four bid windows.

Besides the growth in the onshore wind fleet and the associated investments, Sawea also highlighted the ongoing fall in wind tariffs (to around 62c/kWh in the last bid window), with the most recent prices bid said to be 40% cheaper per electricity unit than those associated with the Medupi coal-fired power station, which was still being constructed.

“Wind power in 2014 saved more money than it cost: it was cash positive by R300-million (that's cash benefit for Eskom directly) and it avoided R800-million worth of unserved energy,” Van den Berg asserted, calculating that wind energy enabled South Africa to avoid 117 hours of load-shedding last year.

Also stressed in its statement, and the associated video clip, was the R7-billion already allocated by wind developers to socioeconomic development projects and the 19 414 person-year jobs created in the construction and operation of the wind farms built over the past three years.

The Global Wind Energy Council, meanwhile, used the day to emphasise that wind energy had become “mainstream” and was one of the fastest growing industrial sectors in the world, attracting $100-billion in investment in 2014.

It also argued that wind’s falling costs had resulted in more corporates adopting the technology to power their “factories, operations and data centres”.

“As businesses become increasingly aware of the progress in technology and falling costs we are seeing a rapid change in investment patterns," Global Wind Energy Council secretary-general Steve Sawyer said.


Edited by: Creamer Media Reporter

SA’s bidding model facilitates big fall in renewables tarriffs

Engineering News
19 May 2015

Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson reports that South Africa’s competitive-bidding model for the procurement of renewable-energy projects from independent power producers (IPPs) has delivered major cost reductions since its introduction in 2011.

Speaking to lawmakers on Tuesday, the Minister said that, in April 2014 terms, the average per kilowatt hour tariff for onshore wind had declined by 55% to an average of 62c, while the solar photovoltaic (PV) tariff had declined by 76% to 79c.

Following four bidding rounds under the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP), 5 243 MW had been procured, with 37 projects, or 1 827 MW, already connected the national grid.

The programme had also secured capital investment commitments of about R170-billion.

“On average, 15% of this energy was delivered to the power system during system peak periods, alleviating pressure on the power system. The energy contribution should grow to approximately 7 000 Gigawatt-hours per annum with the first 47 renewable-energy IPPs fully operational and producing at full capacity by mid-2016,” the Minister said.

By 2022, 17 000 MW of IPP capacity would be added to the South African electricity mix from renewable-energy, cogeneration, coal and gas sources, with the Department of Energy (DoE) set to procure the capacity at a rate of 2 400 MW a year.

The department had submitted new determinations to the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) to enable the procurement of an additional 6 300 MW under the REIPPPP, while a request for proposals (RFP) for an additional 1 800 MW from existing bid submissions was on course for release by June 2015.

The DoE was also seeking Nersa’s concurrence for a determination relating to the procurement of 1 800 MW from co-generators, to be procured under a revised model.

A co-generation RFP would be issued soon and an announcement of the preferred bidders was expected during the third quarter of 2015. “The new approach will ensure that the approval process is expedited and financial close accelerated.”

Global Wind Day 2015

Global Wind Day is a worldwide event that occurs annually on 15 June.

It is a day for discovering wind, its power and the possibilities it holds to change our world.
It is also a day for discovery of the work that has already begun by pioneers around the world.
In more than 80 countries around the world, wind farms are in operation, generating energy from a clean and renewable source.
Thousands of individuals are involved in the production of energy from the wind, but for many people, wind energy is a mystery.

South Africa proudly celebrates 7 years of Global Wind Day with 7 amazing wind energy facts


As the world celebrates Global Wind Day 2015, South Africa proudly showcases its wind energy industry with a short film that shares its immense achievements since 2011.

In appreciation of Global Wind Day being in its seventhyear, the South African Wind Energy Association (SAWEA) has produced this film which highlights seven amazing facts about wind power in South Africa, along with footage from some of the outstanding community projects already underway as a result of funding from our wind farms.


Fact 1: It’s here

South Africa has gone from having just 8 wind turbines in 2012 to 294 – just 3 years later.

Fact 2: It empowers communities

More than ZAR 7 Billion has already been allocated to community uplift and socio-economic development from wind farms being developed under the Government’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producers Procurement Programme (REIPPPP). This figure will increase significantly over the next three to four years as thousands more megawatts of wind energy are built.

Fact 3: It creates jobs

19, 414 person years of jobs were created by wind farms given the go ahead in REIPPPP Rounds 1 -3.  93.5% of those jobs were/are being carried out by South Africans and locally trained technicians.

Fact 4: It avoids load shedding

Wind energyguaranteed that 117 hours of load shedding were avoided in 2014 – this equals 9 Gigawatt hours and an equivalent value of ZAR 800 million. Wind energy also saved ZAR 1.7 billion in coal and diesel fuel in 2014.

Fact 5: It’s cheap

Newest prices for wind power under the REIPPPP are 40% cheaper per electricity unit than the newest coal (based on latest estimates for Medupi Coal Power Station, currently under construction).

Fact 6: Right now, it’s free

Wind power in 2014 saved more money than it cost: it was cash positive by ZAR 300 million (that's cash benefit for Eskom directly) and it avoided ZAR 800 million worth of unserved energy.

Fact 7: It’s all built with private money

ZAR 55 billion of private funding has been invested in the wind industry over the last 3 years. South Africa only pays for the power produced.

One final thought to share: If 294 wind turbines on the ground can do this for our country and our people, think what 2,500 will do by 2020 – that’s the plan!

We hope you will join us in celebrating our flourishing industry by sharing our film with the world to ensure everyone can share in our success.


Editor’s notes:

For further information or to interview SAWEA CEO Johan Van den Berg, please mail: or call +27 (0) 11 2140664.

Follow us on Twitter @_sawea

SAWEA is a non-profit, industry organisation representing the wind industry in South Africa. Its members include both national and international entities active in the entire wind energy supply chain. Its aim is to promote the sustainable use of commercial wind energy in South Africa; to contribute knowledge and human resources to the streamlining of the policy and regulatory framework for wind in SA; to facilitate synergy between the growth of the industry and the achievement of the broader socio-economic aims of Government (including training, job creation and localisation); to disseminate information; to act as a focal point for discussion between members, government, the media and the public.
For more information visit:

Windaba 2015

Join us at our annual conference in association with the Global Wind Energy Council: Windaba 2015 on November 4-5 in Cape Town




{loadposition position-13}