South Africa’s energy crisis has affected the life of every citizen and business. Eskom’s ongoing woes have suspended the sword of Damocles over the country and there is, as yet, no definitive solution. While the power utility battles with its aging infrastructure and political problems, the country is looking around frantically for other solutions. One of the possible answers is the development of renewable energy zones (REDZs) around the country.
REDZs consist of sites set aside for renewable energy sources such as solar panels and wind turbines. The Department of Environmental Affairs plans to have these zones fully developed by the year 2030. The reason that 2030 has been identified as the target year is that no fewer than eight coal-fired plants will have to close by then. The Department reports that it has received hundreds of applications for renewable energy projects since the project was announced.
The really good news is that, if these zones are successful, they can not only bolster the national power grid, but also boost the economies of the communities in which they are set up. The project focuses on poor, rural and underdeveloped areas that are in sore need of economic upliftment. The current zones are in Northern Cape, Eastern Cape and North West.
Some of the sites are already starting to enjoy the benefits of these projects. An isolated valley in the Northern Cape, for example, is the site of a major solar installation. The new set-up has brought billions of rands of investment into the area, creating jobs and drawing foreign expertise and products too.
The first eight renewable energy zones are in Kimberley, Upington, Springbok, Overberg, Komsberg, Cookhouse, Stormberg and Vryburg. More REDZs are expected to be launched in the Mpumalanga and Limpopo provinces.
A Light at the End of the Tunnel
REDZs are a real source of hope for the country. Once they are properly functioning and connected to the national grid, they should help to alleviate the power crisis, although they are likely to act in a supporting role in this regard and other power-generating solutions will have to be set in place too. They also seem set to boost local economies, opening up investment opportunities in various markets in the project hosting areas. On a broad, national level, REDZs will improve the country’s business profile by helping to boost global confidence in South Africa’s energy infrastructure, drawing more investment from abroad.
So, we should all hope for, and invest ourselves in, South Africa’s renewable energy zones, as their success is likely to be beneficial to every one of us.
Jason Scholtz is the CEO of Envision Investments. He is a leader in the property and strategic investment industry in South Africa. For more investment tips and an insider’s look into the South African business and property world, be sure to get in touch, keep an eye on this blog or visit http://www.envisioninvestments.co.za/.