Mainstream Renewable Power, a global wind and solar energy company, has released a research report which states that South Africa’s wind and solar power generation matches electricity demand in the country.
Mainstream analysed wind and solar resource data from 2013 for 18 wind and solar sites across South Africa.
The sites analysed represent a potential combined generation capacity of 42,000 megawatts – 30,000MW wind and 12,000MW solar.
The analysis set out to predict how much electricity the 18 sites could generate and at what times of the day.
The results showed that local wind and solar resources generate power at times of the day when it is needed.
The research further found that when wind and solar generation are combined, the net effect is a significant contribution to baseload power.
Mainstream’s CEO Eddie O’Connor said the initial analysis underpins the government’s commitment to renewable energy.
“Not only are wind and solar power cheaper than new fossil fuel generation here in South Africa, but when combined, they can make a significant contribution to baseload power at the time of day it is most needed,” he said.
The graph below shows the country’s wind and solar hourly generation profile, and the 2008 national demand profile.
Busting a major renewable energy myth
Penny-Jane Cooke, a climate and energy campaigner at Greenpeace Africa, said this research is significant in busting a big renewable energy myth.
“This research effectively busts one of the biggest myths created by the anti-renewables lobby: that we require coal and nuclear generation to provide for baseload demand as renewable energy sources cannot meet this demand,” she said.
She said what is interesting about this research is that this phenomenon does not occur everywhere in the world.
“This means that South Africa is in a unique position to make the most of renewable energy.”
“Contrary to what has been argued about how renewable energy is not available when it is most needed, in South Africa the sun shines and the wind blows when electricity is most needed.”
“This should be enough of a reason to remove the barriers to renewable energy immediately – it’s not rocket science.”