At about 2pm on Sunday the 15th of May this year, Germany met almost all of its power demand from renewable resources. From provisional data analysed by Agora Energiewende based in Berlin, renewables were able to supply 45.5 Gigawatts of power in Germany.  

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Source: Agora Energiewende

This is an incredible achievement which puts into sharp focus the current debate about South Africa’s REIPPP (Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement) Program after recent comments by Brian Molefe where he has stated that renewable power generated “has not helped Eskom”. He has further stated that Eskom will not support the 4th round of IPP’s (Independent Power Producers).

As a result of Eskom’s statement regarding the REIPPP programme, SMA Solar Technology, the largest solar inverter manufacturer globally has decided to close its South African factory.

As quoted on Timeslive’s website, “Wavering support for the renewable industry and REIPP initiatives, recent shocking Eskom statements pertaining to the off-take of renewable energy and a local content policy with many loopholes utilised by competitors in the bidding process (for energy generation projects) do not contribute to a sustainable, predictable business environment and justifying costs for a factory in South Africa,” said Thorsten Ronge, General Manager of SMA’s sub-Saharan division. Read the full article here: http://m.timeslive.co.za/thetimes/?articleId=17318958  

To put the renewable power achievement in Germany into a South African perspective, Eskom’s installed capacity to generate power (predominantly coal-fired power stations) is 42 Gigawatts. We reached an 18 month high in February of this year being able to produce a maximum of just over 35 Gigawatts. It’s been some time since we reached full capacity due to breakdowns, maintenance, ageing power plants and ageing transmission lines.

Imagine for a moment that for a few hours a day South Africa could produce all of its energy requirements from renewables. Of course, it’s not that simple. You can’t just turn power stations on and off and not all renewables are able to produce on demand. Not to mention the cost of building all of these resources – and how does this compare to nuclear power’s costs? That’s a debate for another day.

It is interesting to note that solar alone can meet on average about a 3rd of Germany’s peak demand. This is an estimate based on actual data from April 2016 from Fraunhofer ISE, EEX.

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Source: Energy Transition – The German Energiewende

While policy makers and parties with vested interests continue their debate about the future of South Africa’s energy mix, the rest of us have no choice but to go on about our lives being as energy efficient as possible, generating our own power if we can, all in order to mitigate against the future energy unknowns.

One of Terra Firma Solutions’ key reason for being is exactly this: to help our clients mitigate energy cost and supply risk in an unsure future. The energy efficiency course taught by Terra Firma Academy  is just one of many empowering educational drives’s we offer to do just that.  If you think there is room for improvement in your business to save energy costs,  and want to look at producing your own power, let us know!

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