Council for renewable-energy associations launched in South Africa

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The South African Renewable Energy Council (Sarec), the umbrella body and single voice for all renewable-energy associations in the country, has been launched.

With offices in Johannesburg , the organisation comprises the South African Photovoltaic Industry Association, the South African Wind Energy Association (Sawea), the Sustainable Energy Society of Southern Africa and the Southern African Solar Thermal and Electricity Association.

Sarec ‘s Chairperson Johan van den Berg, who is also CEO of Sawea, says Sarec had its genesis in 2011 when the various associations participated individually in the drafting of the Green Economic Accord. Through that process, government made a request for the creation of a single entity with which it could consult.

Van den Berg revealed that Sarec will seek to encourage the further development and deployment of renewable energy in South Africa’s energy mix. It will also seek to highlight the positive contribution that such a deployment could have on communities, electricity security, employment and on the creation of green industries.

One of Sarec’s first projects will be the production of a documentary exploring the impact that the first wind and solar projects have had on surrounding communities.

Sarec has also launched a study into the relative cost/benefit of deploying renewables to reduce the country’s current dependence on diesel-fuelled open-cycle gas-turbines. The organisation will also seek to make input on energy policy, as well as offer suggestions on how the South Africa’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP) process could be improved, especially for small-scale projects.

Following three competitive bidding rounds under REIPPPP, 64 projects have been selected to proceed, of which 47 are either under construction or already operational. Community involvement and social development have been included as specific bidding requirements.

In 2013, Scatec Solar, which was awarded the Kalkbult project under the first round of the REIPPPP, connected the 75MW Kalkbult PV plant in Northern Cape Province to the regional grid making it the first complete project under REIPPP.

South Africa has launched a number of renewable initiatives amidst existing power problems such as lack of enough electricity and load-shedding. An example is the Jeffrey’s Bay Wind Farm in South Africa, one of Africa’s Largest Power Producer.