Topnews, South Africa, Economy

13. August 2014

IDC grows green energy assets to R15bn

The Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) has achieved its target of investing R5bn a year in green energy projects and this portfolio is now about R15bn.

South Africa is a leader on the continent in renewable energy. The sector has developed rapidly since the government launched a programme three years ago to encourage independent power production.

Raoul Goosen, the IDC’s specialist in green industries, said on Tuesday at a presentation by Uhuru Energy — a biogas company with which the IDC is co-operating on several projects — that South Africa had large tracts of underutilised land suitable for biofuel crops.

Chamber of Mines CEO Bheki Sibiya, who is also chairman of Uhuru Energy, said securing reliable and affordable energy was crucial for the mining industry to achieve its local beneficiation targets.

Uhuru founder David Sonnenberg said although South Africa had small natural gas resources, biomethane produced from the conversion of biogas from feedstocks such as manure, sewage and crops could be used in the same way as natural gas for electricity generation, heating and transport.

He said the Department of Energy had allocated only 1%, or 16MW, of its renewable power target to biogas. But if it were to allocate the 9,600MW it had targeted for nuclear power to biogas instead, this would require only a 300,000ha area to grow the feedstock and would create 300,000 permanent jobs.

Mr Goosen said the department and the Southern African Biogas Industry Association were working together on an incentive scheme for biogas, which was expected to be in place by next year.

Mr Sonnenberg said biofuels plants were adapted to use crops available in the vicinity, and in South Africa those could include succulents, spekboom and moringa, which needed little water and could be harvested year-round.

The IDC had financed several biogas schemes, at dairies, piggeries and an abattoir, and an 8MW plant at South African Calcium Carbine in Newcastle, Mr Goosen said.

by Charlotte Mathews


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