South Africa Renewables Initiative gets international support

Durban – The development of renewable energy in South Africa is to receive a boost after government joined forces with the United Kingdom, Germany, Denmark, Norway and the European Investment Bank (EIB).

Energy Minister Dipuo Peters and Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies launched an international partnership on Wednesday to scale up and secure long term funding to enable the growth of the renewable energy industry in the country.

A declaration of intent on the South African Renewables Initiative (SARi) was signed by high profile representatives from the four countries and the EIB.

SARi aims to mobilise domestic and international funding as well as sector expertise to support South Africa to implement its ambitious plans for the scaling up of renewable energy.

“South Africa has a large potential for renewable energy, with over 18 GW already included in the current Integrated Resource Plan,” said Peters.

South Africa already benefits from international partnerships in the energy field but SARi will also play a pivotal role in the development of new green industries, green jobs in renewable energy and its value chain.

“It will also serve to meet South Africa’s commitment, which President Zuma announced in Copenhagen in 2009, that South Africa would reduce carbon emissions by 34 percent by 2020 and by 42 percent by 2025,” said Peters.

Davies said renewable energy presented an opportunity for Africa.

“African countries need to become producers as well as consumers of tomorrow’s technologies. As South Africa begins to roll out large scale renewables, we are seeking to do this in a way that maximises industrial and job creation benefits.

“The South African Renewables Initiative aims to unlock the environmental, industrial and economic benefits that large-scale renewable energy offer to South Africa, without imposing an unacceptable burden on our economy, public finances or citizens,” said Davies.

President Jacob Zuma endorsed the establishment of SARi last weekend at the World Climate Business Summit.

“The South African Renewable Initiative funding mechanism will help us unlock South Africa’s green growth potential through the funding of large-scale renewable developments. This will be achieved with the assistance of global partners – donors and governments, who will provide innovative funding solutions to facilitate it,” said Zuma.

He said the biggest barriers to developing renewable energy in Africa to date were not technological but financial.

“South Africa has been hard at work in the development and design of financial instruments aligned to our national plans for green growth. The SARi model will enable us to deal with the high cost through low cost loans and other financial instruments combined with time limited pay-for-performance grants.”

Zuma said South Africa would not wait for an agreement in Durban before achieving green, sustainable and inclusive growth.

“We are forging ahead with our programme of greening the economy to improve the economic, social and environmental resilience of the country in the face of climate change.”

Source: BuaNews -By Kemantha Govender- 7th Dec 2011