GWEC at Windaba, Cape Town
“Ten, five years ago everybody said renewables are just too expensive. . . Every situation is different but on the whole, as a general statement, that is just no longer true. And that not only goes for wind but it also goes for solar [photovoltaic] and we have to combat that at every available opportunity,” said Global Wind Energy Council secretary general Steve Sawyer at Windaba 2012 in Cape Town yesterday.
Other challenges applicable both globally and in the South African context were the technicalities of integrating wind energy into countries’ electrical grids; removing the risk of wind investments to attract more institutional investment; and finding ways to work with solar photovoltaic energy providers rather than being pitted against them.
Sawyer added that the wind sector also had to convince policy makers that protectionist measures and trade barriers would be detrimental for many parties, including their own renewable energy industry. Overall, a rise in protectionist practices in markets around the world had been seen over the last two to three years because of the economic slowdown and had resulted in increased local content requirements in the renewable energy sector.
“From an industry perspective we are operating in a global supply chain and if our mandate is to deliver the largest number of renewable electrons at the lowest possible cost all of these trade barriers just make the supply chain less efficient and make the overall process much more expensive. The political reality in different places means we will have to live with these local requirements wherever we go. South Africa is not unique in that regard,” he said.
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