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NC to host Renewable Energy Conference

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The Province has a potential to generate energy by means of concentrated solar panels (CSP), photovoltaic (PV) and offshore wind

FILE PHOTO: A general view shows solar panels to produce renewable energy in Gardanne.

THE NORTHERN Cape occupies a central position in the global debate regarding renewable energy’s contribution in South Africa, with the sector having already attracted investment totalling R30.7 billion in the Province.

This is according to the MEC for Finance, Economic Development and Tourism, Mac Jack, who said yesterday that the Northern Cape was ready to host the Renewable Energy Conference, set to take place this week.

“Experts call us the mecca of renewable energy and recently the Minister of Energy, Jeff Radebe, referred to the Northern Cape as the solar king of the world. Indeed, that is no further from the truth as the Province really is home to sustainable private investment in renewable energy,” Jack said.

To date, the Northern Cape is host to 51 of the country’s 102 Independent Power Producers with more than 19 projects already connected to the grid at a capacity of more than 900MW.

The Province has a potential to generate energy by means of concentrated solar panels (CSP), photovoltaic (PV) and offshore wind.

“The Northern Cape Province aims to become a net exporter of green energy by 2020, and achieve an overall energy saving of 24 percent by 2030.”

This statement by Jack comes days before the Province is scheduled host the Renewable Energy Conference and Exhibition under the theme “Driving Economic Growth and Transformation in the Northern Cape through Renewable Energy”.

The Renewable Energy Conference will be held from August 23 to 24 in De Aar.

The main objective of the conference is to create awareness and promote integrated renewable energy planning in the Province across all spheres of government.

The conference will be attended by key stakeholders in the sector, such as Eskom and Independent Power Producers, and dignitaries, including Radebe and the Minister of Co-operative Governance, Zweli Mkhize, and will be hosted by Northern Cape Premier Sylvia Lucas and Jack.

“The Renewable Energy Conference is envisaged to gather knowledge and inputs from experts, potential investors and government stakeholders in order to encourage investment in the Northern Cape. Investments in the Province will boost the economy, help curb unemployment and improve the socio-economic status of the people of the Province,” Jack said.

He indicated that the Northern Cape was essentially the gateway for investments in renewable energy, specifically focusing on solar energy and to a small extent wind.

“To date, since the first bid window, we have attracted investment totalling R30.7 billion. This has created thousands of jobs, supported socio-economic development (SED) spend and supported small entrepreneurs. Over and above these benefits, the most important aspect is the contribution to the national grid in the form of clean energy that these investments will bring.

“Carbon neutral energy generation that doesn’t pollute like hydrocarbon-based coal and oil will have extensive benefits for the planet and thus future generations. This makes us very proud of the Northern Cape sun and wind,” Jack said, adding that growing the the economy and creating more jobs through natural means like wind and sun could “overcome the triple challenge of inequality, poverty and unemployment in the Province”.