In a bid to find energy solutions for the future, Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe has called on participants at the 2019 Windaba Conference to find secure, reliable, cost-effective and clean energy supply to grow the economy.
Firmly established as the premier wind energy platform in the energy sector, the Windaba Conference and Exhibition is now in its ninth year.
The two-day conference, which kicked off on Tuesday and wraps up on Wednesday, is the ‘must-attend’ event for wind energy stakeholders active on the African continent.
Speaking at the conference, Mantashe said faced with electricity supply issues the country must look towards alternatives such a wind energy that will meet energy demands while addressing industrialisation.
“There has been a gradual decline in electricity demand. This, together with low economic activity and increasing electricity tariffs close the supply-demand gap. Faced with an old generation infrastructure and an Eskom in crisis, we must invest in new generation capacity.
“We must begin an infrastructure build programme to meet the energy demands required for our industrialisation,” he said.
In the first quarter of 2019, the economy contracted by 3.2%; with energy making a negative contribution to the GDP. The key factors behind the decline were the load shedding and the high electricity price.
“Lack of access to energy correlates directly to poverty and lack of economic growth. Development is possible in an environment of a universally accessible sustainable, affordable energy supply,” said Mantashe.
Equally, Mantashe highlighted the need for energy that is friendly to the climate.
The Minister said by tapping into wind energy, South Africa could realise its renewable energy programme while addressing its industrialisation and transformation agenda.
”The renewable energy programme must play a significant part in the industrialisation agenda. Climate change rationale aside, wind technologies could create the green economy jobs that are needed.
“Along with industrialisation is the imperative for transformation. The Black majority must have a significant presence in ownership and supply, and throughout the wind technology value chain. We must ensure that a big portion of the wind allocation in the IRP is localised,” he said.
Mantashe emphasised the need for the country to invest in research and development programmes that will allow the country to store wind energy.
“Energy storage technology will make wind energy, coupled with storage, a very attractive option going into the future.
“It is evident that the traditional power delivery model is being disrupted by technological developments related to new systems. Small scale embedded generation through wind, biomass, biogas and municipal solid waste possess a great potential. We must invest in that space,” he said.