On the 19th of April 2013, the Renewable Energy Spatial Toolkit for the Namakwa District was launched at the offices of Namakwa District Municipality (NDM) in Springbok. The final tool was presented to Chris Fortuin, the Local Economic Development manager,
as the receiving official from the Namakwa District Municipality by Amanda Bourne of Conservation South Africa (CSA). The launch was attended by 26 people, representing a series of government departments, municipalities, and institutions.
The spatial tool was requested by the NDM as part of their current work towards a Green Economy Strategy for the District. The Municipal offices had received several requests for information and for project approval from wind and solar energy developers and sought a spatial tool that they could use to quickly and comprehensively evaluate such applications.
The spatial tool integrates the ecological constraints limiting renewable energy development in the District with technical constraints, such as infrastructure gaps, and a consideration of ecosystem priorities. The spatial analysis identifies ecological and conservation priority areas, as well as sensitive areas, where development would be undesirable.
Mapping also looked at areas where renewable energy is potentially feasible based on the available solar or wind resource, current distribution of roads, overhead transmission lines and electrical substations, which are the overriding technical constraints. Using the tool, rrenewable energy development can be prioritised within those areas which are both the least sensitive areas, environmentally, and also the most economically viable sites for renewable energy development.
The toolkit suggests that there are four primary areas where renewable energy development is likely to be concentrated within the District:
•The coastal plain from Koingnaas to Alexander Bay.
•The inland plateau from Springbok to Poffadder.
•Loeriesfontein to Granaatboskolk.
•South of Sutherland to the border of the Namakwa District with the Western Cape.
The major limitation on the development of renewable energy in the District is the availability of transmission infrastructure.
An analysis of the levels of species richness and presence of species of conservation concern with the different likely development zones suggests that the development of renewable energy within the coastal plain of Namaqualand and around Springbok poses a potentially significant risk to biodiversity.
Renewable energy facilities are land-hungry and there is limited space available for such facilities within high wind resource areas, but, even within broadly sensitive environments, there is usually sufficient degraded or transformed land to accommodate Photo-Voltaic solar facilities, and biodiversity constraints are likely to have less impact on such facilities as a result.
Small scale solar energy for local industry and household use could be promoted as an alternative to large-scale commercial production.
Integrated constraints and opportunities maps were produced for wind and solar energy. A map illustrating the overlap between the ecosystem-based adaptation to climate change priority areas identified in the NDM Vulnerability Assessment (2012) , and the integrated constraints map for renewable energy in the Namakwa District was also produced. There does not appear to be much conflict between the priority areas as identified in the Vulnerability Assessment and the suitable areas for renewable energy development identified in the spatial tool.
The spatial tool and the narrative report that accompanies it was created by Simon Todd of Simon Todd Consulting. The spatial tool was converted to .kmz files that can be viewed on free internet-based software, Google Earth. This is user-friendly and makes the tool accessible to users with minimal GIS experience.