Energy conference held

The Northern Cape Government’s Renewable Energy Conference in De Aar was held under the theme “Driving economic growth and transformation in the Northern Cape through renewable energy”.

Hosted on 23 and 24 August, the conference was aimed at creating awareness and promoting integrated renewable energy planning in the province across all spheres of government.

Addressing the conference, Mac Jack, MEC of Finance, Economic Development and Tourism, highlighted that the department is entrusted with a mission of regulating and transforming the energy sector for the provision of secure, sustainable and affordable energy, and the advancement of historically advantaged individuals.

He said it is the responsibility of government to ensure that radical economic transformation does not become a slogan but a reality, and that ownership patterns are required to happen in the energy sector as a reflection of the demographics of the country.

Jack proposed a renewable energy charter which will strengthen the transformation agenda and bring government policies and community expectations.

This will serve as a support scheme which will focus on community participation. This is a new departure from the current policy framework that guides the sector and has been introduced in Ireland and worked well in Scotland and Germany.

“The future holds opportunities for up and coming small businesses and entrepreneurial oriented persons where they can become active in the processes of installation of embedded plants, the maintenance thereof, and the assis­tance in the controlling of metering and billing on behalf of the generator of energy,” the MEC pointed out.

“Communities have witnessed the launch of Independent Power Producer projects and constructions of solar farms on their properties. This and other strategic economic development projects within the region ought to play a meaningful role in the improvement of people’s standard of living.

“This sector contributes R300 billion towards the gross domestic product of the country and accounts for 90 000 jobs.”

He promised that women and the youth will not be left out in this project as their transformation is imperative and cannot be overlooked.

Jeff Radebe, the minister of Energy, reinforced this by endorsing the importance of gender equality.

He said “the SADC energy ministers approved the full and effective participation and equal opportunities for women and youth in energy programmes and projects in the region.”

Since the inception, government has been appropriating annual solar water heater grant funding, working with other departments such as the Department of Trade and Industry.

In 2015 the Department of Energy had to revise the solar water heater implementation model based on the lessons learnt and also in consideration from which the capacity of local manufacturers had to be tested as per the designation notes.

Under the National Solar Heat Programme, the department plans to install 87 000 SWH units in 19 participating municipalities during the 2018-’19 financial year.

The Sol Plaatje Municipality will be allocated 6 000 solar geysers and the Emthanjeni Municipality will be allocated 4 000 geysers.

In November 2015, the Department of Water and Sanitation gazetted a draft pricing strategy that seeks to facilitate reforms in the sector and to provide transparency and predictability to water users.

According to Radebe, the South African Wind Energy Programme has four major components.

“Back in March 2013 when the programme started, it sought to extend to the rest of the Northern Cape in addition to KwaZulu-Natal, the Free State and the Eastern Cape.