The internationally renowned renewable energy expert, Christine Wörlen, is delivering the keynote address at the upcoming Clean Power Africa conference and exhibition in Cape Town in September. The event will focus on new opportunities in the clean energy sectors such as retrofitting hydropower to current dams, assisting the mining industry to use excess water to provide onsite power and look at applying Photovoltaics and Concentrated Solar Thermal Power.
Stable regulatory environment needed
Christine Wörlen will address “Global best practices on renewable energy integration” in her keynote presentation. According to Christine, “A stable regulatory environment is needed in order to encourage anybody to invest in renewable energy. The ‘wave’ of deployment will be slow in the beginning, as few investors delve into a new technology in a new country right away. On the other hand there needs to be a regular incremental adjustment of the regulatory framework as technologies develop and become more competitive and as the integration of increased power output from intermittent technology becomes more complicated and new regulatory detail is required.”
According to Christine Wörlen, renewables are the only energy sources that are coming down in price: “they are getting cheaper over time. All other technologies and energy sources are on an upward trend. This is a unique situation and one that merits close watching.”
She says the main challenge is getting started: “We are all locked into centralized electricity systems. ‘Modern’ renewable energy – and I am not looking at large hydro dams here – is a new industry in almost every country, coming up against the established competition. It requires paradigm changes in power sector planning and operation.”
Germany, Brazil, China…
With regards to success stories, Ms Wörlen says Germany is a well-known one, reporting astonishing figures of consistent growth in renewables for 20 years and counting. She says: “More than 300.000 jobs have been created in the industry and yet more earn money from producing and selling solar power to the grid. This year, 25% of our power comes from renewables, so that we have increased our energy security.”
She explains that there are many developing countries that are great examples too: “Including Brazil that has been running its car fleet on sugar cane for a long time. In Mexico, it can be cheaper to buy wind and solar power for your business than traditional electricity from the national utility. China is successfully growing a solar and wind industry and also increasingly using the technology at home. Even smaller countries like Morocco are now demonstrating commitment and attracting a lot of business in the renewable energy field.”
What did they do right?
Christine Wörlen says these countries understood that renewables offer various advantages that they found to outweigh the challenges: “renewables are not only clean, they are innovative and help create more jobs than conventional energy. Policy makers in the successful countries understood these advantages and put in place policies to attract the industry and help foster its growth. Also, often they chose rather smart policies. These were focused on the specific objectives that the countries found most important – jobs or energy security or investment, depending on the context. Furthermore, these policies are constantly monitored and adjusted.”
And what is her specific message for Africa? “The sun is on your side! I am happy to come to Cape Town and get in touch with the community there. I have been observing South Africa for the last 10 years and am seeing encouraging signs. I look forward to the discussions in September!”
South Africa’s Energy Minister Elizabeth Dipuo Peters will welcome delegates at the official networking reception at Clean Power Africa in Cape Town in September which will boast over 600 visitors from across the globe. The event incorporates the fifth edition of the hugely successful Hydropower Africa 2012 conference and exhibition and the second year of Solar Energy Africa.
Source: Solar Energy Africa – Press Release – 17 August 2012