South Africa’s Renewable Energy Gold Rush

Sub-Saharan Africa is likely to become the new boom region for global renewable energy investment, according to a new international study.
  
Research contained in a report from market research firm Frost and Sullivan has found that African nations such as Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa are instituting renewable energy-friendly policies which it says will attract major investment once fully realised.
  
According to Frost and Sullivan Energy and Power Systems Programme Manager Cornelis van der Waal, it is these “pro RE” (renewable energy) government schemes that have helped small-scale solar and wind generation projects contribute to the overall growth of the industry.
  
“South Africa and Kenya, leaders in the RE industry, have announced feed-in tariffs for RE projects along with other regional governments that are currently investigating opportunities for RE projects,” he says. 
 
“Many developmental agencies consider small-scale RE projects as the most feasible solution for accelerated rural electrification and therefore are increasingly investing in medium-sized projects, especially wind and solar projects.”
 
In a country where many people are not connected to mains grid power, it is the off-grid solar power market that will experience a significant expansion, calculated at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of more than 10 per cent between 2009 and 2015.
 
The report states the Sub-Saharan African RE market is expected to triple in investment value between 2010 and 2015, driven by a significant need for energy diversification and energy security of supply. 
  
South Africa recently announced plans to build a 5000MW solar park facility which will house several solar thermal power stations, which it hopes will lead to a boost for the nation’s manufacturing sector, a conclusion van der Waal agrees with.
  
“South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria and Uganda are exploring the inclusion of grid-connected solar power into the national RE feed-in tariff (REFIT) policy. Companies with local manufacturing capacity will be the first choice to supply the solar photovoltaic technology.: