It is vital for any enterprise, let alone agricultural ones, to have a steady, reliable and cost-effective source of energy. The power constraints in South Africa mean that surely we should be looking at all our options now! There is no way that Eskom alone can fund and deliver energy enough to meet the country’s generation, transmission and distribution infrastructure needs to 2030 (Creamer, 2019). A greater diversity of energy resources is in the best interests of national and international security.

Renewable energy resources have a security of supply, being continually replenished. Start-up costs are increasingly affordable, and as tariffs increase the lower the break-even point (the time the system takes to pay for itself) becomes (Lemmer & Schmidt, 2019). After this, energy is sourced from the sun, wind, water or other natural/organic matter, and done so without pollution (why we call renewable energy technologies “clean technologies”).

The renewable energy sector is currently four times more employment-intensive than SA coal and nuclear (SAWEA, 2019). It is the fastest growing energy sector in the world (Unwin, 2019). For South Africa, renewable energy could mean job creation, sustainable development, and a reduced burden on Eskom. It is also a sane, logical response to global warming.

See also the “Energy”, “Biofuels” and “Pumps & Generators” pages.

Batteries

Role players

  • All Solar Renewable Energy Solutions
  • Battery Centre
  • Current Automation
  • Earth Power
  • Eveready
  • First National Battery
  • Power Africa
  • Sabat Batteries
  • SBS Solar
  • Solardome SA
  • Sub-Sahara Power Distributors
  • Willard Batteries
  • Winglette

Biogas

Visit http://biogasassociation.co.za.

What is biogas ?

A biogas digester (also known as a biogas plant), comprises a large tank in which biogas is produced through the decomposition/breakdown of organic matter (Such as food waste and plant matter) through a process called anaerobic digestion. It’s called a digester because organic material is eaten and digested by bacteria to produce biogas.

Biogas is a mixture of carbon dioxide and methane, that resembles liquid petroleum gas. Like natural gas, biogas is used as a fuel to produce electricity, to power farm equipment, for lighting applications, in gas cookers for cooking, and even as fuel for vehicles. Biogas is widely used across the world.

How does a biogas digester work?

A typical biogas digester has a container that holds organic matter and water, called slurry. A digester also has second container that holds the gas that has been produced after the organic matter is broken down. A series of pipes connect the slurry into the digester and from there connect to the container that will hold the gas output. There is also a transport system to take the biogas to where it will be used. The digester also has a mechanism for ejecting the residue.

Source: AGAMA BiogasPro

 

Role players

  • AGAMA BiogasPro
  • ARC for Agricultural Engineering
  • Biogas SA
  • Botala Energy Solutions
  • Cape Advanced Engineering (CAE)
  • Fountain Green Energy
  • HomeBiogas
  • Interwaste Environmental Solutions
  • Solien
  • South African Institute of Agricultural Engineers
  • Southern African Biogas Industry Association (SABIA)
  • Sunfuel Cleantech Group
  • Trade Plus Aid (TPA)

Further reference

Contact the ARC-Agricultural Engineering at 012 842 4017 or stoltze [at] arc.agric.za for the following publications:

  • Biogas design and operation manual (also available in Afrikaans),
  • Biogas from cattle manure (also available in Afrikaans),
  • Biogas purification (also available in Afrikaans),
  • Biogas equipment (also available in Afrikaans),

Find the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries’  “Facilitation of large-scale uptake of alternative transport fuels in South Africa – the case for biogas” (the Biogas Report) at www.environment.gov.za/sites/default/files/reports/bioagas_report.pdf

 

Some articles:

Biomass

Biomass is a term generally referring to any plant or animal matter. Examples of biomass as a direct fuel source include wood, animal manure, sugar cane residue and agricultural wastes, particularly in rural areas.

Energy can also be produced by converting biomass to a gas. Plant oils are also produced from biomass. These oils can be extracted from sunflowers, soybeans, groundnuts, vegetables and other plants, and turned into fuel.

Biogas is dealt with under the previous heading. For notes on biofuels (ethanolo and biodiesel), please consult the separate “Biofuels” chapter.

Role players

  • Africa Biomass Company
  • Combustion Technology
  • Energy & Densification Systems
  • Marketplace Energy
  • Momentous Energy
  • Scanwood Solutions
  • South African Institute of Agricultural Engineers
  • Sunfuel Cleantech Group

Further reference

  • Contact the ARC-Agricultural Engineering at 012 842 4017 or stoltze [at] arc.agric.za for the following publication: Low-cost woodgas producer (also available in Afrikaans)
  • The presentation “Renewable energy in agriculture: Brief technology overview” (see “Websites & publications” heading) includes a look at biomass.
  • Find the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena) “Bioenergy” option  at www.irena.org/bioenergy.

 

Some articles:

Geothermal energy

This is energy contained in the heated rock and fluid that rises from the extremely hot core of the Earth and filters into cracks and pores in the Earth’s crust. It can exist as hot water, steam or hot dry rocks. In order to access it, wells are drilled into the Earth’s surface. South Africa does not have many geothermal resources, except in the area around Aliwal North and in the Cape Fold mountains.

 

Role players

  • Aqua Earth

Further reference

Hydro energy

Energy in water, in the form of motive energy or temperature differences, can be harnessed and used. Since water is about a thousand times heavier than air, even a slow-flowing stream of water can yield great amounts of energy.

Hydroelectricity, a renewable energy source obtained from moving water, supplies about 20% of the world’s electricity. With seven major rivers (Nile, Niger, Congo, Senegal, Orange, Limpopo and Zambezi) Africa, which holds about 10 percent of the world hydro-energy potential and, with very low energy per capita consumption level, has so far exploited a small part of its capability.

There is a high capital cost, and social and environmental impact to large dams. Because of this, renewable hydro developments today are increasingly focused on smaller-scale projects (less than 10MW). These smaller hydro-plants do not impact on riverine eco-systems, and using local technology and skills to develop small-scale hydro can also create local jobs.

Hydroelectricity can also be generated from the ocean (marine energy or marine power).

 

Role players

  • Earth Power
  • Energyneering
  • Genesis Eco-energy
  • Momentous Energy
  • Renewable Energy Holdings (REH) Group
  • Southern Energy
  • Telecom Techniques
  • Vortex Hydro Systems
  • ZM Pumps

 

Further reference

Solar

One hour of sunlight packs enough energy to power the world for a day.

An area of 70km x 70 km could provide all of South Africa’s electricity requirements from concentrated solar power (CSP)

Solar resources are by far the most abundant and readily accessible in South Africa, as Africa is well endowed with sunshine the whole year round. We have twice as much sunlight than that in Europe where solar power units are compulsory in some countries such as Switzerland. In Europe you find solar power “farms” where farmers make more money from selling surplus solar power to the national grid than from traditional farming.

There are two distinct ways we can utilise solar power, either by using the heat of the sun (solar thermal) or by converting sunlight into electricity with photovoltaic panels. There is also “passive solar” – buildings are constructed in such a way that they absorb the heat of the sun (by facing north) thereby reducing heating costs.

Solar power for farms in remote regions is a viable option because they may not have direct access to grid-fed electricity.

Source: www.solardome.co.za

Role players

  • ARC Agricultural Engineering
  • All Power
  • All Solar Renewable Energy Solutions
  • Aqua Earth
  • Averge Technologies
  • BioTherm Energy
  • Black Dot Energy
  • Bundu Power
  • Current Automation
  • Earth Power
  • EDF Renewables
  • ElectroMechanica
  • Energyneering
  • Fountain Green Energy
  • Genesis Eco-energy
  • JLinx
  • Juwi
  • Kwikelec
  • Mainstream Renewable Power
  • Marketplace Energy
  • Maxyield
  • Momentous Energy
  • New Southern Energy
  • Nuon RAPS Utility
  • Olivia Energy Solutions
  • Power Africa
  • SBS Solar
  • Solardome SA
  • Solar Energy
  • Solar World Africa
  • Solien
  • Sonfin
  • South African Institute of Agricultural Engineers
  • South African Photovoltaic Industry Association (SAPVA)
  • Southern Energy
  • SP Energy
  • Specialized Solar Systems
  • Sun Electricity
  • SUNFARMING
  • Sustainable Energy Africa (SEA)
  • Suntank Solar
  • Tasol
  • Telecom Techniques
  • Tenesol Manufacturing
  • The Sun Pays
  • ZM Pumps

 

Further reference

  • Contact the ARC-Agricultural Engineering at 012 842 4017 or stoltze [at] arc.agric.za for the following publications: (i) The construction of a domestic convection solar drier (plans/sketches), (also available in Afrikaans) (ii) Solar water heating system (plans/sketches) (also available in Afrikaans)
  • The presentation “Renewable energy in agriculture: Brief technology overview” (see “Websites & publications” heading) includes a look at solar.
  • Watch the case for solar energy generation on farms (Carte Blanche, 2019) at www.youtube.com/watch?v=U7AP6GsZtbg
  • Find the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena) “Solar” option at www.irena.org/solar.

 

Some articles:

Waste to energy/landfill gas

Also see the “Waste management” chapter.

Landfill gas is a complex mix of different gases created by the action of micro-organisms within a landfill. These gases can be collected and used to produce heat or electricity. Not only are landfill gas projects an important source of energy (what a creative form of waste management!), they also reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

 

Role players

  • Energy & Densification Systems
  • Enviroserv
  • Fountain Green Energy
  • HomeBiogas
  • Interwaste Environmental Solutions
  • Momentous Energy
  • New Horizon Energy

Wind energy

An example of wind energy with which everyone is familiar is the good old windmill (also in a separate chapter). But let’s move on…

South Africa, with its ample coastline, has the potential for major electricity generation from wind. Indeed, wind contributes 52% of South Africa’s renewable energy power, with more than 900 wind turbines spread over three provinces (SAWEA, 2019).

Source: https://sawea.org.za/stats-and-facts-sawea

 

Role players

Find the members directory at https://sawea.org.za/members/directory/

  • All Solar Renewable Energy Solutions
  • BioTherm Energy
  • Earth power
  • EDF Renewables
  • ENERTRAG South Africa
  • Fountain Green Energy
  • Genesis Eco-Energy
  • Juwi
  • Kestrel Wind Turbines
  • Mainstream Renewable Power
  • Momentous Energy
  • Solardome SA
  • Solien
  • South African Institute of Agricultural Engineers
  • South African Wind Energy Association (SAWEA)
  • Southern Energy
  • Telecom Techniques
  • Winglette
  • ZM Pumps

 

Further reference

  • The Wind Atlas for South Africa (WASA) Large-Scale High-Resolution Wind Resource Map is available at www.wasaproject.info. It gives detailed information of the surface wind across South Africa to assist planners, wind farm developers and others to identify areas for wind exploration.
  • Contact the ARC-Agricultural Engineering at 012 842 4017 or stoltze [at] arc.agric.za for the following publication: Wind energy.
  • The presentation “Renewable energy in agriculture: Brief technology overview” (see “Websites & publications” heading) includes a look at energy from wind.
  • The Endangered Wildlife Trust’s South African Good Practice Guidelines for Surveying Bats in Wind Farm Developments is available by calling 011 372 3600.
  • Download “Birds and Wind: Energy Best-Practice Guidelines” at www.birdlife.org.za.
  • Home Insulations. 2018, February 2. “Advantages of wind energy in South Africa”. Available at www.homeinsulations.co.za/renewable/wind-energy-south-africa
  • Find the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena) “Wind” option  at www.irena.org/wind

International business environment

 

The 7th of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is “affordable and clean energy”. See www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment.

 

According to BP’s 2019 “Energy Outlook”, renewable energy accounted for 8.5% of the world’s power generation in 2017 and could rise to 29% by 2040. Europe is the leader in renewable energy power generation, with 21.7% of its energy coming from renewables, and could be at 53.4% by 2040 (Unwin, 2019).

Find the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA)‘s latest (2019) annual look at generation costs for renewable energy at www.irena.org/publications/2019/May/Renewable-power-generation-costs-in-2018.

 

Some role players

 

Further reference

 

Some articles:

Local business environment

To date (March 2019), 3 776 MW of electricity generation capacity from 62 IPP projects has been connected to the national grid.

In just 8 years (including a 3-year period where no new procurement was undertaken), government’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPP) has attracted R209.4 billion in committed private sector investment (SAWEA, 2019).

Local communities have already benefited from over R1 billion spent by IPPs on education such as upskilling of teachers, extra teachers and classrooms, and 600 bursaries to students from disadvantaged communities, the provision of health facilities and medical staff, social welfare such as feeding schemes, support to old age homes and early childhood development and support to and establishment of more than a 1 000 small enterprises.

The South African renewable energy sector has created 38 701 Full Time Equivalent (FTE) person-years of employment for youth, woman and citizens from the surrounding communities. The sector is currently four times more employment-intensive than SA coal and nuclear.

Source: https://sawea.org.za/stats-and-facts-sawea/

 

The motivation to become less reliant on the national energy grid are several:

  • Improved regulatory support for alternative sources
  • Increased electricity tariffs
  • Awareness and acceptance of renewable energy technologies
  • Decreasing costs of the hardware and installation
  • South Africa’s ready supply of renewable resources for energy production
  • An increasingly unreliable supply of power from the national utility.

South Africa has reached the tipping point in moving from dependence on fossil-based energy to renewable energy, and this trend will escalate further in the near future.

Source: Wessel Lemmer and Justin Schmidt in Farmer’s Weekly, 29 March 2019, pp. 34-35.

National strategy and government contact

Find the government/parastatal role players under the next heading.

Renewable energy generation is seen as a possible catalyst for increased economic benefits and industrial development by achieving various objectives in South Africa:

  • job creation
  • improved export competitiveness
  • assisting South Africa to reach its carbon mitigation commitments
  • safeguard exports from possible carbon tariffs and taxes and
  • build energy security

Renewable energy plays a vital role in assisting South Africa to reach its commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions with the potential of creating employment opportunities and generating green investment.

The Integrated Resource Plan 2019 (IRP 2019) contains proposed allocations to renewable energy. Find it at www.dmr.gov.za.

Small-scale embedded generators (SSEGs) or installations generating less than 1MW do not require a generation licence. SSEGs or farmers producing electricity via a renewable source must register with NERSA and Eskom. A business installing an SSEG can write off 100% of its investment in the first year.

Source: Wessel Lemmer and Justin Schmidt in Farmer’s Weekly, 29 March 2019,p. 34-35. Email wessel.lemmer@absa.co.za or Justin.schmidt@absa.co.za.

Role Players

 

Associations and NGOs

The South African Renewable Energy Council is an association of associations. See http://sarec.org.za.

 

Engineering and consulting

  • ARC–Agricultural Engineering (ARC-AE) Renewable Energy & Agro-processing (Reap) group Tel: 012 842 4017 www.arc.agric.za Adds value to waste generated by various agricultural activities
  • Aurora Power Solutions (APS) Tel: 021 421 9764 www.apsolutions.co.za Project development and financing
  • Cape Advanced Engineering Tel: 021 577 3413 www.cae.co.za Design and installation of renewable gas energy plants
  • EDF Renewables https://edf-re.co.za Offices in Cape Town and Port Elizabeth. Develop, finance, build, own and operate commercial renewable energy generation facilities
  • Enel Green Power Tel: 010 344 0200 www.enelgreenpower.com/country-south-africa Wind and solar projects
  • Energyneering Tel: 0861 555 184 www.energyneering.co.za Solar and hydro solutions.
  • ENERTRAG South Africa 021 207 2185 www.enertrag.co.za
  • Fountain Green Energy Tel: 031 764 7914 www.fge.co.za Waste to energy projects. Offices in Durban, Johannesburg, Cape Town and Kathu.
  • Fusion Energy Tel: 072 286 7519 www.fusionenergy.co.za Design and invest in all forms of clean energy opportunities
  • Genesis Eco-Energy Tel: 083 460 3898 www.genesis-eco.co.za Bulk renewable energy projects
  • GeoGroup Tel: 011 966 7760 www.geogroup.co.za Solar and wind power engineering services
  • Interwaste Environmental Solutions Tel: 011 323 7300 www.interwaste.co.za Waste stream consulting
  • Koos Bouwer Consulting (KBC) http://kbcindustrial.co.za Energy and renewable energy consultant
  • Mainstream Renewable Power www.mainstreamrp.com A global energy development company
  • Motla Consulting Engineers www.motla.co.za Undertaking solar-power projects for Senwes (to power its headquarters in Klerksdorp and its silo at Hennenman).
  • Murray & Roberts (M&R) www.murrob.com
  • Sustainable Energy Africa (SEA) Tel: 021 702 3622 www.sustainable.org.za Research, capacity building, policy engagement and information dissemination

 

Government/parastal

  • Independent Power Producers Office www.ipp-projects.co.za
  • Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) www.energy.gov.za Find notes on (alternative) energy sources, programmes and projects on the website.
  • Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (the dtic) www.thedti.gov.za The Green economy and sustainable energy feature in the dti’s focus (e.g. see the 2018/19-2020/21 Industrial Policy Action Plan [IPAP]).
  • Department of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation www.dhs.gov.za
  • National Planning Commission (NPC) www.nationalplanningcommission.org.za
  • Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF) www.environment.gov.za/projectsprogrammes/biomassenergy The Working for Energy programme includes the following areas: Biomass to energy (biogas, wood gas, firewood, etc.); Waste to energy; Solar; Micro Wind; Micro hydro; and Algae.
  • The Development of Bank of South Africa (DBSA) manages the DEA’s Green Fund. See www.sagreenfund.org.za/wordpress/
  • Eskom Renewables Business is one of the utility’s units. Find the “Renewable energy” option at www.eskom.co.za.
  • National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) Tel: 012 401 4600 www.nersa.org.za

 

Input suppliers

 

Training and research

  • ARC–Agricultural Engineering (ARC-AE) Renewable Energy & Agro-processing (Reap) Tel: 012 842 4017 www.arc.agric.za
  • Council for Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) Tel: 012 841 2911 Tendani Tsedu (Wind energy) mtsedu [at] csir.co.za; Dr William Stafford (Bioenergy interventions) wstafford [at] @csir.co.za; www.csir.co.za
  • Nelson Mandela University (NMU) Centre for Energy Research Tel: 041 504 2259 https://energy.mandela.ac.za
  • Outeniqua Research Farm Tel: 044 803 3700 www.elsenburg.com Research in biogas
  • South African National Energy Development Institute Tel: 011 038 4300 www.sanedi.org.za Renewable energy is one of the sub-programmes
  • Stellenbosch University Centre for Renewable and Sustainable Energy Studies Tel: 021 808 4069 www.crses.sun.ac.za Renewable and sustainable energy studies
  • University of KwaZulu-Natal Bioresources Engineering Tel: 033 260 5490 BioEng [at] ukzn.ac.za and http://bioeng.ukzn.ac.za
  • University of the Western Cape SA Herbal Science and Medicine Institute Tel: 021 959 2911 www.uwc.ac.za Dr Klaasen is actively involved in developing biofuels from indigenous “Kraalbos” and alternative small-scale energy from Kraal manure.

 

Finance and marketing support

  • Some of the consultants and input providers (see above) can help you source funding for sustainable energy initiatives.
  • The GreenCape Initiative has help desks which facilitate communication between the different role players and so helps sector development in the Western Cape. Call 021 811 0250 or visit www.green-cape.co.za.
  • Several international groups have helped with South African renewable energy projects e.g. African Development Bank (AfDB), www.afdb.org, Agence Française de Développement, www.afd.fr, and Danish International Development Assistance (DANIDA), http://um.dk/en/danida-en.
  • The Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) is involved with projects like Renewable Energy Market and won the African Renewable Energy Programme Award for its efforts in February 2019. See www.dbsa.org/EN/DBSA-in-the-News/NEWS/Pages/DBSA-SCOOPS-GLOBAL-AWARD-FOR-RENEWABLE-ENERGY-FINANCING.aspx
  • Fedgroup www.fedgroup.co.za Invests in blueberry, honey and urban solar farms
  • The Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) has been involved in funding efforts to build a green economy. Find more at www.idc.co.za.
  • SEDA Atlantis Renewable Business Incubator (SAREBI) Tel: 021 415 1600 www.sarebi.co.za Appropriate business development interventions for energy entrepreneurs
  • The commercial banks have units that fund renewable energy projects. The first bank in South Africa to be powered by wind is the Nedbank branch in DuNoon, Western Cape. Justin Schmidt (quoted earlier) is head of renewable energy at ABSA. Email Justin.schmidt [at] absa.co.za.
  • Energy is one of the focus areas for the National Business Initiative. Call them at 011 544 6000 or visit www.nbi.org.za.
  • Provincial investment agencies like Wesgro have renewable energy finance. Find their details on the “Providers of financial services” page.
  • South African – German Chamber of Commerce www.germanchamber.co.za Sustainable energy is a focus area. See http://suedafrika.ahk.de/en/industries/sustainable-energies/.

 

Some other role players

Websites & publications

Refer to websites and publications listed earlier on this page.

 

Some articles

 

International:

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