JOHANNESBURG Feb 10 South Africa's main
renewable energy industry body said on Friday it was confident
the country's renewable power programme would soon be back up to
speed, after President Jacob Zuma showed support for the sector
in his state of the nation speech.
State utility Eskom has been signing new contracts to buy
renewable energy at a slower pace after power supply in the
country stabilized last year, prompting an angry response from
renewable energy producers that had won bids to supply the
utility with power.
"Eskom will sign the outstanding power purchase agreements
for renewable energy in line with the procured rounds," Zuma
told parliament in his speech on Thursday.
The South African Renewable Energy Council (SAREC) said the
president's statement was a clear sign of support for the
renewable energy programme.
"We now look forward to the identification of PPA (power
purchase agreement) signature dates, so that South Africa's
well-oiled independent power procurement programme process can
continue, and so that construction of the next set of renewable
power plants can begin," SAREC's Chairwoman Brenda Martin said.
Eskom is cutting costs and strengthening its balance sheet
to position itself as a reliable borrower to fund its
multibillion rand programme to upgrade and build new power
Eskom spokesman Khulu Phasiwe said the company was committed
to renewables and that Zuma was reiterating what his company had
been saying all along.
"Eskom remains committed to renewables. We're going to sign
the new power purchase agreements for renewable energy at a
scale and pace that we can afford," Phasiwe said.
"What the president said last night is not different from
what Eskom has been saying all along."
(Reporting by Tiisetso Motsoeneng; Editing by James Macharia
and Susan Fenton)