• Ndivhuwo Khangale
Department of Energy
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South Africa’s public energy sector stands to gain from increased exposure to international trends and skills, thanks to agreements signed between the Department of Energy and International Energy Agency (IEA) on 4 July 2011.
The department’s minister Dipuo Peters announced the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed with IEA. The MoU will help strengthen cooperation between the local industry and IEA, ensuring that the country gains advanced expertise.
The agreement focuses on projects involving renewable energy, energy efficiency, clean technologies, data management and analysis, and policy analysis, among others.
“This MoU will further enable us to leverage on the international expertise that the IEA embodies and will ensure streamlined cooperation where the entire sector benefits as opposed to only certain pockets of the sector,” said Peters in a media statement.
IEA executives are visiting South Africa between 4 and 6 July for a bilateral conference with the Department of Energy.
A strong relationship already exists between South Africa and IEA, and the MoU will take cooperation efforts a step further, said Peters.
“This MoU is an important milestone for us because it seals the cooperative engagement that we enjoy with the IEA and also provides a common document which will enable both organisations to check and review the arrangement long after the two of us have left our respective portfolios.”
Peters said a working group that will concentrate on ensuring that the MoU produces “tangible outputs” has been proposed for establishment.
Need for new ideas
With various critical projects in the pipeline, the energy department will certainly gain from access to advanced expertise and prototype ideas.
The creation of a R150-billion (US$22.2-million) solar park in Upington, Northern Cape, is currently the department’s largest venture, and it needs modern technology at its disposal to make success of it.
When complete, the solar park will produce 5 000MW of power for the national grid. A section of the park is expected to start generating electricity by late 2012.
The Department of Energy also has to work with state electricity utility Eskom to ensure that its upcoming major coal-fired power stations in Mpumalanga and Limpopo are not harmful to the environment.
It is important for South Africa to work closely with reputable organisations as it’s looking for modern ways to expand capacity for energy generation and use, said Peters.
“The IEA is one such organisation and this cooperation will ensure that we are able to catch up and are not left behind in this important global space.
“This MoU is a symbol of the importance of creating conditions in which exchange of information and expertise can contribute to the reaching the goals of energy security, economic growth and environmental protection in South Africa and in the member countries of the IEA,” she added.
Although South Africa is not a member of IEA, Peters said the country’s participation in its programmes is invaluable.
Some 28 OECD countries belong to the IEA, which focuses on ensuring the availability of “reliable, affordable and clean” electricity among member states.
“South Africa has benefited from participation in the IEA and wishes to continue deriving value from the IEA as well as also contributing to the wealth of knowledge and expertise that is embodied by the IEA,” Peters said.