18 September 2007
Environment Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk has announced a R500-million project, funded by the National Energy Efficiency Agency (NEEA), to make South Africa’s national parks more energy efficient over the next three years.
Speaking at the launch of National Parks Week at the Kruger National Park’s Skukuza rest camp on Monday, Van Schalkwyk said the investment would ensure that all South African National Parks (SANParks) facilities were “exemplary energy efficient showcases for local and international visitors”.
He said the energy efficiency project would complement the R574.9-million allocated to SANParks by the National Treasury for infrastructure upgrades at all its camps over the next three years.
“The NEEA will provide ‘top-up’ funding for each upgrade to buildings and other facilities within SANParks, to finance the specific technology improvements that will ensure a sustainable and energy-efficient compliant installation,” Van Schalkwyk said.
As an example, he said that if SANParks’ current plan and budget made provision for conventional electric geysers in accommodation units, the NEEA would fund the additional amount required to install energy efficient solar water heaters instead.
Likewise, where conventional lighting systems have been specified, the NEEA will fund the difference between the current inefficient technologies and compact fluorescent lamps.
NEEA operations manager Barry Bredenkamp said the upgrades would deliver twin benefits of actual energy savings for the camps, while showing the rest of the world that South Africa was pursuing the path of energy efficiency.
“The NEEA is delighted to be assisting SANParks improve the energy economy of it’s lodges both through financial support and the agency’s expertise, which will demonstrate to millions of energy conscious visitors that SA is committed to combating climate change,” he said.
Furthermore, black economic empowerment (BEE) companies in the energy industry will be used to carry out energy audits and implement energy efficient components, as part of the NEEA’s capacity building drive.
Additional jobs will also be created through the training of local energy advisors in areas close to the relevant parks. Preliminary upgrades and comprehensive energy auditing will begin before the end of 2007, and implementation will carry on until the beginning of 2010.
“The value of promoting these facilities as energy efficient and sustainable, will also go a long way in marketing the country as an environmentally-conscious country and will furthermore contribute to off-setting the carbon footprint that will possibly arise as a result of activities leading up to 2010,” Van Schalkwyk said.