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South Africa Approves $5.4 Billion Investment in New Renewable Energy Projects

South Africa is one of the most coal dependent countries in the world, generating around 85% of its 41GW electricity demand from coal fired power plants, making South Africa the largest polluter in Africa, and one of the 20 largest in the world.

As a step to rectifying that, the country’s energy minister has just announced that $5.4 billion of funding has been approved to build 28 solar, wind, and geothermal projects, which will add an extra capacity of 1.4GW of renewable energy generation to the grid.

This project represents the first of five auctions that the government will hold as part of its Renewable Energy Independent Power Producers Program. The program will see 3.725GW of renewable energy projects installed by 2016. The contracts for the first phase will be signed on November the 5th and the plants will start producing power around 2014-2016. The second round of contracts has also been named with a price of $3.3 billion, and a capacity of 1.04GW; the whole deal should be finalised by March 2013.

These steps to develop renewable energy, although small in comparison to the total capacity of power demanded by the country, offer hope that South Africa may indeed be trying to turn its back on fossil fuels.

Although, looking at the larger picture that hope is quickly dashed. South Africa is in the middle of a large scale energy expansion, which will also see 2.5GW of new coal plants, 2.6GW from hydropower, 2.5GW from natural gas, and 9.6GW from nuclear power plants.

By. Joao Peixe of Oilprice.com



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