Opening of the George Solar Plant | Western Cape Government

Speeches

Opening of the George Solar Plant

26 February 2016

Speech by Dipuo Peters, National Minister of Transport

  • MEC for Transport in the WC Province, Mr Donald Grant
  • His Worship, the Executive Mayor of George, Cllr Alderman Standers
  • The Chairperson of ACSA board Mr Skhumbuzo Macozoma
  • The Municipal Manager of George Municipality, Mr Trevor Botha
  • ACSA CEO, Mr Bongani Maseko
  • Councillor Henry McCombi
  • Officials from the three spheres of government
  • All our industry partners and stakeholders
  • Ladies and gentlemen of the media
  • Distinguished guests

It is with great pleasure and I am feeling equally overjoyed and nostalgic on this tremendous occasion, which has brought us to a city that is widely regarded as the administrative and commercial hub of the Garden Route, to officially open the ‘George Airport Solar Plant’.

Firstly, my expressed joy is deeply rooted in the honour that I have been divinely afforded to be in your presence, within this very enchanting city, to consummate a project of such substantial magnitude and importance for sustainable socio-economic and environmental development.

So please allow me to take this opportunity to confer my highest gratitude to the George Local Municipality and the Western Cape Provincial Government for hosting us on this highly significant and windy day.

Secondly, as fate would have it, my feelings of nostalgia can be largely attributed to the nature of this massive project and its resonance with my previous role as the Minister of Energy in the Republic of South Africa.

Ladies and gentlemen;

Many of you would know that my 4-year tenure at the Department of Energy corresponded with the watershed emergence of South Africa’s internationally acclaimed Renewable Energy: Independent Power Producers Programme (RE: IPPP).

This IPP Procurement Programme has been designed so as to contribute towards the target of 3 725 megawatts (MW) and towards socio-economic & environmentally sustainable growth. More importantly the program was initiated in order to start, as well as stimulate the renewable industry in South Africa.

South Africa has a high level of Renewable Energy potential and presently has in place a target of generating 42% of its power needs through Renewable Energy sources by 2030.

Sources of renewable energy that have been identified to meet this target include: On Shore Wind, Concentrated Solar Thermal, Biomass Solid, Biogas, Landfill Gas, Small Hydro, and more significantly for the purposes of our engagement here today, Solar Photovoltaic. This is in line with the integrated resource plan of 2010Programme Director;

The George Airport Photovoltaic (PV) Power Plant was initiated by the Department of Transport’s globally esteemed state owned entity, the Airports Company of South Africa (ACSA) as part of its commitment to reduce the load on the country’s constrained power grid and to contribute towards sustainable development.

The activation of the 75 kilowatts (KW) solar plant represents the first phase in generating independent power for George Airport.

Built at a reported cost of R16 million and commissioned in September 2015, the plant generated 47 megawatt hours of power within the first month of its existence and is reliably expected to save in excess of 1.2 million liters of water per year.

With South Africa currently grappling with its worst drought in decades, this is a phenomenal achievement of note, which I believe must be applauded.

Ladies and gentlemen;

You would all be pleased to note that the completion of the plant is in keeping with a multitude of local and international obligations that the Republic of South Africa has committed to in relation to sustainable development and they include; in ascending order:

The United Nation’s (UN) global aim of Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL), which is intended to eradicate global energy poverty by 2030 – some 1.3 billion people are estimated to not have access to electricity and the bulk of those still in Africa;

The African Union’s Agenda (AU) 2063 - Aspiration number one of the Agenda is entitled “a Prosperous Africa Based on Inclusive Growth and Sustainable Development”.

His Excellency, President Jacob Zuma’s Nine Point Plan to boost the economy and create jobs, as pronounced during the State of the Nation Address 2015. The very first and most critical point of the Plan conveyed the heading “Resolving the Energy Challenge in South Africa”;

The resolutions taken at the Conference of the Parties (COP) 21 in Paris, which was held in December 2015, to reduce global Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions to below the 2 degrees Celsius ceiling. Therefore, this project admirably demonstrates the South African government’s commitment to clean energy generation and sustainability, as well as to our country’s increasingly prominent role when it comes to global climate change issues.

Our achievements in this field are not to be downplayed when considering that South Africa achieved universal democracy only 22 years ago yet we continue to punch well above our weight.

Indeed, in his State of the Nation Address (SONA) 2016, the Honourable President, Mr Jacob Zuma, announced that the Department of Energy released a report titled the State of Renewable Energy in SA revealing that the renewables sector attracted R192.6 billion in investment, contributed more than 109 000 construction jobs and cut the equivalent of 4.4 million tons of carbon dioxide in the country.

This is ample evidence that the Intergrated Resource PlanNational Development Plan’s (NDP) is in motion and is being implemented rigorously to improve the lives of ordinary South Africans.

The gains spoken to in the report, also illustrate that South Africa’s economy remains globally competitive and conducive to Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), job creation and poverty alleviation.

Ladies and gentlemen;

It is reported that global power generation is comprised of approximately 22% renewable energy.

To ensure the sustainability of our eco-system it is imperative that countries all over the world continue to upsurge the utilisation of clean energy, which contributes immensely to the preservation of our natural environments.

Collectively, Africa contributes very little to the dangerously high global Green House Gas emissions, but our benign culpability does not suggest that we do not have a very significant role to play when it comes to climate change.

As a matter of fact, as recently as three weeks ago (09 February 2016), the world’s largest Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) plant went live in Morocco.

The CSP plant will supply electricity to over 1.1 million people in that country and will cut carbon emissions by 760,000 tons a year.

Once complete, the Great Inga Dam Project, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, is anticipated to become the largest HydroPower scheme in the world and will supply electricity to numerous countries on the African continent.

These two mammoth projects reflect Africa’s prowess and capacity with regard to generating clean energy.

Clearly, Africa as a continent, has so much to offer in the renewable energy space and as the best natural resource endowed continent on the planet, we cannot afford to allow the clean energy revolution to transpire in our absence, as it so tragically happened with the industrial revolution.

I believe that ACSA must be greatly congratulated and commended for the George Airport Solar Plant project because this wonderful venture will reduce our global emission footprint and also reduce pressure on the national grid, and highlights Africa’s prominence in the global renewable energy revolution.

Furthermore, Mr Bongani Maseko informs me that the completion of the plant forms part of ACSA’s broader plan to install solar energy panels at all six regional airports over the next three years to make them more self-sufficient.

The remaining five regional airports include: Port Elizabeth International Airport, East London Airport, Bram Fischer International Airport, Kimberley Airport and Upington Airport.

All the aforementioned projects align with the entity’s vision to be a world leading airport business that uses advanced technologies to run its operations.

Our internationally acclaimed and state of the art airports are a harbinger of ACSA’s success and future plans in relation to transforming the South African aviation sector into global leader and pioneer.

I, therefore, want to indicate to ACSA CEO, Mr Maseko, that your outstanding achievements have not gone unnoticed.

Ladies and gentlemen join me in congratulating Mr Maseko for his election as the new Vice President of the Airports Council International.

Congratulations and Good luck sir.

Last year, ACSA was recognised with several awards at the Airports Council International (ACI) – Annual Awards and Skytrax – The World Airports Awards.

Under the stewardship of the board and the team you are leading South Africa was recognized for the following:2015 - Airports Council International (ACI) – Annual Awards

Airports Company South Africa's airports have won four Airports Council International (ACI) Awards.

Best airport by region – Africa category:

Second place: King Shaka International Airport

Third place: Cape Town International Airport

Fourth place: O.R. Tambo International Airport

Best airport by region (fewer than two million passengers per year)

First place: Upington International Airport2015 Skytrax – The World Airport AwardsWorld’s top 100 airports

24th place: O.R. Tambo International Airport

26th place: Cape Town International Airport

28th place: King Shaka International Airport

World’s best domestic airports

Third place: King Shaka International Airport

Best airports in Africa

First place: O.R. Tambo International Airport

Second place: Cape Town International Airport

Third place: King Shaka International Airport

Fifth place: East London Airport

Seventh place: Port Elizabeth International Airport

Eighth place: Bram Fischer International AirportI want to emphasise that all of the stellar achievements obtained by ACSA cannot be reached without sound leadership, hard-work, determination and excellent vision.

As patriotic South Africans, we are well and truly proud to have such an accomplished and highly innovative institution serving our country with distinction.

We want to encourage you to keep up the good work and to gently and protectively remind you to keep out the old age evil known as complacency!

Programme Director;

In closing, I want to reiterate that our special convergence, here today, has fatefully intertwined two very crucial government portfolios that I have grown increasingly fond of and feel particularly proud to have served under as a member of the South African Cabinet – transport and energy.

Whether it is by coincidence or by fate, I cannot express in words how humbled and honoured I am to be here on this blissful day.

Albert Einstein once said the “Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous”. So I am convinced that this official launch is richly blessed and was divinely preordained.

Allow me to close with knowledge from Ancient Roman Emperor, Marcus Aurelius, who uttered the following stimulating and wise words when talking about fate; he said:

“Accept the things to which fate binds you, and love the people with whom fate brings you together, but do so with all your heart.”

Indeed, I fully appreciate the opportunity to be here and I wholeheartedly wish to declare the George Solar Plant Officially open.

I thank you!

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