JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – Standard Bank says it is at the ready to support renewable energy and infrastructure projects.
The bank, which this week delivered record 37%-higher headline 2022 earnings of R34.2-billion and paid the highest dividend in its 161-year history, expresses the view that meaningful structural reform and an improvement in the electricity supply in South Africa could lift confidence and accelerate economic growth, job creation and social upliftment.
The bank, headed by CEO Sim Tshabalala, says its 2023 balance sheet growth – particularly from renewables and infrastructure, combined with higher average interest rates – should support low-teen net interest income growth year on year.
The Gauteng provincial government reports that at least 1 500 ha of the land that precious and green metals mining company Sibanye-Stillwater has donated to it are earmarked for the development of a solar power farm to ease Gauteng’s energy crisis.
The process of allocating land parcels to independent power producers will be completed in March, Business Day quotes Gauteng Finance MEC Jacob Mamabolo as saying.
The solar farm will reportedly benefit from R1.2-billion in seed capital set aside by the provincial government to fund projects that are shovel-ready and can contribute to ending loadshedding in the province.
On the horizon is engagement with local authorities to receive the solar power generated.
Renewables are described by Scatec sub-Saharan Africa VP Jan Fourie as presenting the optimal solution to South Africa’s energy woes, with the urgency of the situation calling for increased private sector investment to fast-track the Department of Mineral and Energy Resources’ Integrated Resource Plan and accelerate economic recovery.
After reaching financial close in July 2022, Scatec started construction of the three Kenhardt projects totalling 540 MW solar and 225 MW/1 140 MWh battery storage. Kenhardt is a small town in the Northern Cape, about 120 km from Upington.
Fourie sees widespread investment in renewables being driven by strong tailwinds and offering businesses far more than a safety net against loadshedding.
“Embracing renewables is a key component of many successful businesses’ corporate social responsibility strategies, and tends to herald strengthened stakeholder relations, including with the local community, customers and employees,” he says, adding that new energy wheeling legislation and power purchase agreements are alleviating energy-mix pressures.
Harnessing South Africa’s abundant sun and wind resources could, he emphasises, hold the key to future-proofing this country’s energy sector.
Fourie urges the private sector to shift gears in staking their claim in a cleaner, more sustainable future through significant renewables buy-in.
South Africa’s mining industry is leading the move by the private sector into renewables. The mining industry has 89 energy projects by 29 companies for 6.5 GW of renewable electricity at a project value exceeding R100-billion, Minerals Council South Africa states in its latest Facts and Figures Pocketbook 2022.
Renewable energy’s big plus is that its sunlight and wind sources are constantly being replenished.
Global investments in energy transition technologies – including energy efficiency technologies – reached $1.3-trillion in 2022, a report published by the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena) and Climate Policy Initiative shows.
This figure was a new record high, up 19% from 2021 investment levels and 50% higher compared with investment levels before the pandemic in 2019.
Although global investments in renewable energy reached a record high of $500-billion in 2022, this figure still represents less than 40% of the average investments needed each year between 2021 and 2030, according to Irena’s 1.5 ºC scenario.
Investments are also not on track to achieve the goals set under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the report notes.
Quoting independent sources such as Climate Action Tracker, Anglo American CEO Duncan Wanblad last month warned that the world is on a trajectory to reach 2.7 °C of warming above pre-industrial levels, a long way mathematically from the 1.5 °C that is required by the Paris Agreement.
Global warming and its accompanying negative effects on the environment have been the motivating force behind the move to renewable sources of energy.