Wind and solar facilities in South Africa can now generate electricity at about half the cost of coal and nuclear, according to a recent presentation by the country’s Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research.
An April, 2016 CSIR chart puts the cost of variable wind and solar at 0.62 Rand per kilowatt-hour, compared to 1.03 to 1.51 for different grades of coal, 1.17 to 1.30 for nuclear generation, and 0.98 to 1.24 for natural gas.
“It’s a standout result for South Africa, which unlike developed economies has a shortage of power rather than a surplus, so needs to build new capacity to meet the demands of its growing population and economy,” RenewEconomy reports. “South Africa has also brought down the cost of solar dramatically in five years since it began competitive tenders for large scale projects,” with one recent bid coming in at one-sixth the cost of the country’s first call for proposals in 2011. Wind costs have fallen by 60% over the same period.
“The results will be seen as important for any review of the draft update to the Integrated Resource Plan for Electricity (Draft IRP), currently in progress by the Department of Energy, which will set the country’s new energy priorities,” RenewEconomy notes. The review “has sought to build 17.3 GW of renewable energy and 11.5 GW of ‘non-renewables, including 5 GW of coal and 4.7 GW of gas fired generation.” One local news site said the report on the results of that process had been delayed, possibly to account for falling solar and wind costs.