Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson
Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson

Focus on SA’s renewable energy efforts

By Nicolette Dirk Time of article published Oct 1, 2015

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Nicolette Dirk

THE SA International Renewable Energy Conference, which starts on Sunday, will focus on the government’s commitment to diversify the energy mix through renewable energy.

The conference at the Cape Town International Convention Centre is hosted by the government, the SA National Energy Development Institute (Sanedi) and the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21). It ends on Wednesday.

President Jacob Zuma and Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson will be some of the keynote speakers. Delegates from the private, public and academic sector will discuss strategies to accelerate the use of renewable energy.

Ren21chairman Arthouros Zevos said renewables already played a major role in the energy mix in many countries.

“South Africa’s rapid investment totals $5.5 billion (R65Bn) in clean energy. This is an impressive demonstration of how stable renewable energy policies can shape the market,” Zevos said.

Some of the ministers attending this week’s event include Albania’s chief of cabinet for the ministry’s energy and industry, Ardit Kamberi, Germany’s state secretary of economic affairs and energy, Rainer Baake, and Malawi’s minister of natural resources, energy and mining, Bright Msaka.

Dr Stephan Singer, director of global energy policy for the World Wildlife Fund in Belgium, will be a panellist in Monday’s discussion on “Road to COP21: Renewables solution agenda”.

“WWF has been actively campaigning worldwide to boost renewable energy as a key component of sustainable development and climate protection. Our rallying cry has been a call for a world powered by 100 percent renewable energy by 2050,” he said.

Singer said using renewable energy is economically and technically possible as each year the prospects for renewables become brighter as technology has become cheaper, more efficient and more reliable.

“We have witnessed the rapid decline of renewable energy manufacturing costs by about 80 percent for solar PV in the past five years, and new developments in more efficient and larger wind turbines and geothermal energy.”

Based on economic capabilities, Singer said, the countries that have been leading renewable energy source investments are Uruguay, Mauritius, Costa Rica, South Africa and Nicaragua. “These five countries spend about 0.8 to 1.6 percent of their GDP on renewables. And most of these countries have already very ambitious short-term renewable energy source targets of between 60 and 100 percent renewables in the power sector between 2015 and 2025.”

Singer said South Africa is poised to overtake Germany and Italy soon with its highly successful domestic solar power programme.

“It is estimated that by the end of 2015, South Africa will have solar power on 5 million rooftops, almost every third roof in the country,” he said.

Singer said for the past two years the country has had the largest renewable energy investments per GDP of close to 1 percent among the powerful G20 nations.

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