Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Government farts in the wind-energy industry


While Eskom struggles to meet our increasing energy demand and businesses and homes are subjected to crippling blackouts, it appears that the extended helping hand has curled up and been placed back into the warm pocket… perhaps to continue clinking the change there?

The need to stimulate our renewable energy industry needs no explanation. There is a wealth of literature and evidence of its many advantages. In 2009 when NERSA released the tariffs for independent renewable energy producers, there was much reason to celebrate. South Africa “became first African country to introduce a feed-in tariff for wind energy. Many small and big investors will now be able to contribute to the take-off of the wind industry in the country. Such decentralised investment will enable South Africa to overcome its current energy crisis. It will also help many South African communities to invest in wind farms and generate electricity, new jobs and new income”.

Prior to elections, this hope was supported with bold national and budget speeches telling us about how government will go about stimulating green development, creating jobs and funding mechanisms for green businesses. Now - new developments that hamper the industry gets a mere mention on page 7 of the Cape Times yesterday (outta sight….outta…).

Now, after about R400 million has been invested (by private sector) in the industry based on REFIT, government has turned around and decided that private energy producers will now have to engage in a competitive bidding process in order to sell their electricity to Eskom. This due to legislation apparently being changed and tying Nersa’s hands when it comes to procurement processes. So once again we are stuck with lengthy and costly red-tape that far from stimulating the promised jobs and green development, will only serve to stifle and deter investment in our renewable energy industry.

It’s simply sad how we can go about dilly-dallying and not only slow down our own development and growth, but in fact take a few steps back (kinda the case with most things it seems). And if legislation is now blamed for preventing fixed tariffs with fears of legal battles, then why not change legislation to accommodate it? Why not facilitate independent energy producers by simplifying and speeding up lengthy and costly processes?

We need to raise our voices and support independent energy producers as much we can – we need to talk about and do everything in our power to stimulate our renewable energy industry. As we battle to sort out red-tape and wait for the promised jobs and green development, Eskom not only continues to struggle with electricity generation and distribution, but demands that we all pay more than 60c per unit for our electricity from 1 July 2011.

Stimulating our renewable energy industry is not only government’s work, but needs the support and jolting of private sector and every South African in order to make it work. The options are sitting in the dark and farting in the wind or putting our plentiful sunshine and wind to really great use.



(Pics from: http://is.gd/aaLYi8 ; http://is.gd/nxK1RC)

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