PRETORIA– South African Energy Minister Jeff Radebe says the signing of agreements for 27 renewable energy projects earlier this week is expected to result in a reduction of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in the country by 8.1 million tonnes per year.

The renewable energy programme is [confirmation of] South Africa’s commitment, together with 195 other countries around the world, to the Paris Agreement for the reduction of CO2 emissions worldwide. It also makes us part of the ever and fast changing global world of a renewable energy industry. I can proudly say that it is also an effective climate change mitigant and a water-smart programme. The 27 projects are expected to offset 8.1 million tonnes of CO2 per annum, he said when he signed the projects here Wednesday.

With energy generation being the biggest consumer of water, Radebe said the devastating impact of the current drought, specifically in the Western Cape and Northern Cape provinces, over the last few years had highlighted the impact of climate change and water security.

Generating electricity using renewable energy is an efficient way to minimise water consumption in the energy sector. The projects, once fully operational and at maximum capacity, will save 9.6 million kilolitres of water per annum compared with similar megawatt-hours (mWh) of electricity from fossil fuels. This is equivalent to the water needs of more than 1.2 million people a year, said the Minister.

The renewable energy programme will further stimulate an indigenous renewable energy industry and contribute to socio-economic development and environmentally sustainable growth.

The renewable energy projects are expected to offer cost-competitive rates for electricity. The estimated, average portfolio cost for all renewable energy technologies under the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme has dropped consistently in every bid round,” Radebe noted.

Indications are that prices will continue to decrease in future rounds as demonstrated by the recent Solar PV and Wind prices elsewhere in the world. The lower prices coming from the renewable energy projects will provide the much needed relief to indigent households under the current economic conditions.”

The national energy regulator, Nersa, will continue to play a critical role in ensuring justifiable tariffs to the consumers, while allowing investors in electricity generation to receive a fair return on investment.

We have to acknowledge that we may not always be achieving the low prices as reported in other parts of the world, however there is a necessity to ensure support of the programme to the transformation objectives of our country, said Radebe.