European boost for SA renewables

8 December 2011

South Africa has formed a partnership with four European countries and the European Investment Bank (EIB) to source funding and expertise to support the country’s ambitious plans for the scale-up of renewable energy.

The agreement was signed on the sidelines of the UN climate summit (COP 17) in Durban on Wednesday by representatives from South Africa, the UK, Norway, Germany, Denmark and the European Investment Bank.

Expertise, funding

The first task of the partnership will be to help South Africa to develop operational financial mechanisms and secure funding to enable the scale-up of renewables envisaged by the South African Renewables Initiative (SARi), which forms part of the government’s Industrial Policy Action Plan.

The SA-European partnership is seen as a growing one which will draw in additional partners over time.

“It is also intended to demonstrate and share learning from an innovative large-scale collaboration to mobilise investment into climate-compatible infrastructure and green growth,” the EIB said in a statement on Wednesday.

Speaking after Wednesday’s signing in Durban, Energy Minister Dipuo Peters said the South African Renewables Initiative would not only promote increased use of renewable energy, but would also boost the development of new “green” industries, and create jobs in renewable energy and its value chain.

Industrial, job creation benefits

Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies said renewable energy represented “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,” Davies said.

“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.”

Simon Brooks, EIB vice-president for climate action, said the bank “looks forward to working with South African partners both to share experience from renewable energy projects around the world and to see how best to support individual schemes.”

Also present at Wednesday’s signing were Chris Huhne, UK secretary of state for energy and climate change; Norwegian environment minister Erik Solheim; German environment minister Norbert Rottgen, and Denmark’s climate and energy minister, Martin Lidegaard.

SAinfo reporter