SA energy groups urge government to keep renewables tariff

25 July 2011

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25 July 2011 | Adam Leach

The South African government should continue to pay a premium for renewable energy to help develop the sector, according to a group of trade associations.

The three organisations, representing 90 companies in the energy industry, have repeated their support for the ‘renewable energy feed-in tariff’ (Refit) after speculation about the future of the scheme. Under Refit, the government currently pays a higher price for renewable power in order to support and encourage suppliers and businesses in the sector

The scheme began in 2009 and the government currently pays R1.25 ($0.18) per kilowatt hour (kWh) for wind energy, R2.10 ($0.31) per kWh for solar power, R0.94 ($0.14) for hydroelectric energy and R0.90 ($0.13) per kWh for power from landfill gas.

In an open letter to the Department of Energy (DoE), theSouth African Wind Energy Association, the South African Photovoltaic Association and the Southern Africa Solar Thermal and Electricity Association urged the government to keep them informed of any potential changes to the way it buys energy.

They also called for the DoE to ensure the renewable energy industry is involved if any changes are made to purchasing policy and to take advantage of its expertise.

“We request that the DoE, Treasury and NERSA [South Africa's National Energy Regulator] make public their deliberations and time-frames and engage in frank and open discussions with stakeholders to remove uncertainty and conjecture from the process,” said the letter. “A professional process, based on sound governance procedures, is important to establish credibility of the RE [Renewable Energy] procurement process.”

A DoE spokesman told SM that it is working on a response to the issues highlighted in the letter.

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