South Africa's power crisis risks choking green energy drive

jueves 5 de marzo de 2015 04:43 GYT

* Chronic power shortages stem economic growth

* President Zuma promises green energy expansion

* Delays, weak infrastructure hold back renewable growth

* Cash-strapped Eskom distracted by power crisis

By Wendell Roelf

CAPE TOWN, March 5 (Reuters) - South Africa's hopes of becoming one of the world's top renewable energy hubs are dimming due to poor infrastructure and delays as cash-strapped state utility Eskom is distracted by a scramble to keep the lights on.

Chronic electricity shortages are one of the biggest brakes on growth in Africa's most developed economy as regular blackouts strangle industries from mining to manufacturing and pile pressure on President Jacob Zuma's government.

Zuma laid out ambitious goals last month to increase power generation capacity, including plans to boost installed renewable energy capacity to 9,600 megawatts (MW) by 2030 from just 1,600 MW now, out of a total capacity of 44,175 MW.

Upgraded technology and lower costs have enhanced the appeal of clean energy in Africa, as firms such as Enel Green Power and E.ON eye the relatively untapped region to help offset lagging growth in mature European markets.   Continuación...