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IEA assists South Africa in developing solar energy roadmap

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The South African government and various stakeholders are currently developing a national solar energy technology roadmap with support from the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the German development agency, Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit.

South Africa has been identified as a country where there is great potential for solar energy due to optimal radiation patterns. The aim of this roadmap is to plot a clear pathway assessing the steps that South Africa should take to ramp up its use of this renewable energy source. The target is for 42% of new electricity generation capacity in South Africa to come from renewable sources – excluding hydropower – by 2030.

The IEA, which will work closely with the South African government throughout the process, has developed a series of global low-carbon energy technology roadmaps covering the most important technologies, from biofuels to smart grids.

Each roadmap represents international consensus on milestones for technology development, legal/regulatory needs, investment requirements, public engagement/outreach and international collaboration. As well as these international roadmaps, the IEA has also worked with countries to support their national roadmap efforts, such as a roadmap on wind energy in China.

This latest collaboration follows a Memorandum of Understanding between the IEA and South Africa’s Department of Energy in which both parties agreed to work more closely on a broad range of energy issues.

The first meeting to kick-off the process of developing a solar energy technology roadmap for South Africa took place on 18 June in Pretoria.

Deputy Director Generals Mr Ompi Aphane and Mr Val Munsami, respectively from South Africa’s Department of Energy and the Department of Science and Technology, attended the event along with over 100 other stakeholders.

These included senior experts from South Africa’s Department of Trade and Industry, the National Treasury, and Department of Environmental Affairs as well as representatives from non-profit and industrial organisations (including the Sustainable Energy Society of South Africa and South Africa’s Alternative Energy Association); academia (including staff from the University of Stellenbosch and the University of Pretoria); and industry.

Initial discussions focused on an earlier 2010 report on solar energy technologies. This report could potentially provide the basis of the new roadmap.

IEA experts provided guidance on best practices for developing a roadmap as well as insights on the latest technology developments.

Breakaway sessions were organised to discuss specific technology options, such as solar PV, in greater detail as well as data collection, policy and regulatory issues that will need to be addressed during the development of the roadmap.

The process of developing this roadmap will continue with establishing the role of all stakeholders – from government to industry – in addressing the key issues and challenges which need to be overcome in order to significantly increase use of solar technologies in South Africa.