Southern Africa seeks to add 2,763MW of power to grids this year

solar-BrightSourceEnergy-flickrThe uptake of renewable energy follows a resolution made in 2012 by southern African countries to increase the uptake of cleaner energy sources that aid in reducing carbon emissions. (Image source: BrightSourceEnergy/Flickr)Southern African countries plan to commission new projects that are expected to add 2,763MW of power in 2015, and finalise on a member state to host a regional centre for the promotion of renewable energy projects in the region

45 per cent of the planned new capacity for 2015 is expected to come from renewable energy sources, said officials from the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP) Coordination Centre. The uptake of renewable energy follows a resolution made in 2012 by southern African countries to increase the uptake of cleaner energy sources that aid in reducing carbon emissions.

The long-term target set by regional energy experts is that SAPP should achieve a renewable energy mix in the regional grid of at least 32 per cent by 2020 and 35 per cent by 2030.

13 projects are being undertaken in six Southern African Development Community (SADC) member states with majority coming in from South Africa. DR Congo is expected to be a major contributor as well, with 430MW due to be added by the country's power sources later this year.

Coal will be the largest contributor – South Africa’s coal-fired Medupi Power Station is expected to generate an excess of 738MW by the end of this year.

Gas is assuming a titular role as an energy source. Five of the projects to be commissioned are gas-fired, said SAPP officials.

In addition, a major share of planned capacity will come from Independent Power Producers (IPP), who contribute about 32 per cent of new generation. Power managed by IPPs are likely to be commissioned in Zimbabwe and Mozambique. Zimbabwe has four notable IPP hydropower stations, especially Pungwe is expected to be commissioned this year and contribute 15MW to the power grid. The Ressano Garcia and Kuvanianga power stations in Mozambique are also run by IPPs and are expected to add 175MW and 30MW respectively to the regional grid.

According to SAPP, southern Africa plans to commission 24,062MW of power between 2015 and 2019, if all proposed projects come on stream.

Meanwhile, the SADC has finalised the process of selecting a member state to host its regional centre for promotion of renewable energy. Mozambique, Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe have submitted bids to host the centre, and the winner is expected to be announced this month.

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