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South Africa's wave power potential

Scottish company Ocean Power Delivery, which develops technology to generate power from waves, is considering a R7-billion development off the coast of Mossel Bay that could generate 700 megawatts of electricity, according to Business Report. The company is talking to the South African Department of Minerals and Energy and a potential local partner, Port Elizabeth-based Genesis Eco-Energy, about developing a pilot plant at Mossel Bay, 400 kilometres east of Cape Town.
South Africa currently has the capacity to generate about 40 000 megawatts of power, but is looking to cut its dependence on coal and rely more on renewable energy sources. According to Business Report, these sources can also generate income from selling carbon credits to other nations that produce carbon dioxide, under the Kyoto Protocol plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Ocean Power Delivery is an Edinburgh-based company set up in January 1998 to develop the Pelamis wave energy converter, which generates power from semi-submerged equipment, which is then transferred to the shore through a cable. On Tuesday the company announced the shipment of its first new-generation Pelamis converters to Portugal. The machines will be delivered to the Port of Peniche, where they will undergo final assembly prior to commissioning and installation later this year. "We've been interested in South Africa for some time because of its unique status as a developing country with the technological capability to make a project like this fly," Max Carcas, Ocean Power business development director, told Business Report.

If the talks succeed and Ocean Power wins an order, a pilot plant could be in operation in a year's time, Carcas said. The company would then look to install plants elsewhere on the Western and Eastern Cape coast, near towns such as Port Elizabeth, Knysna and Saldanha. A 30-megawatt plant would occupy a square kilometre of sea and generate enough power for 20 000 homes.

A number of companies ranging from Mittal Steel to Ethanol Africa are considering renewable power projects to benefit from carbon credit sales, according to Business Report. Under a European Union system that began in 2005, 12 000 factories and power stations need allowances for the carbon dioxide they emit.

Additional information:
News date: 19/05/2006

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