New entity to help meet SA's energy needs

Friday, July 20, 2012

Speaking at the launch of Sanedi, Peters said the new state entity will help government in ensuring that the African continent moves away from being the "darkest continent at night".

"Sanedi is responsible for energy research. We must be well positioned to help identify future energy needs," she said, adding that the UN had declared 2012 as the Year of Energy.

Sanedi has been established through the merger of two entities, namely the South African National Energy Research Institute (Saneri) and National Energy Efficiency Agency (NEEA). Research done by Sanedi will inform government policy and its strategic energy plan.

Its primary focus is to help address the country's rising energy demands through areas like energy efficiency, green transport and advanced fossil fuels.

Sanedi's strategic plan will include smarter grids to provide better services to the people. Sanedi will help South Africa move towards a low carbon economy, seeing that the country is among the world's highest carbon gas emitters.

It was important to be energy conscious, the minister said, adding that when buying household products, people should consider energy efficient products.

Additionally, government needed to also become more energy efficient. "Government spends a lot of money on electricity," she said.

Peters was also disappointed that funds set aside for energy efficiency in government departments had been used for other purposes. However, she said this was being addressed.

The minister expressed appreciation at the release of building codes by the Department of Trade and Industry that will require buildings to be energy efficient.

On the transport side, Sanedi and the Department of Transport were in negotiations for the funding of green transport projects. Green transport, Peters said, had been largely untapped.

While looking into alternative energy sources, South Africa will continue using coal "for the next 100 years".

"We will continue using coal for the next 100 years and we will use anything that is cost effective and affordable for South Africans. We will use everything possible to ensure security of supply," said Peters.

Further to this, Peters appealed to the public to assist in the campaign to install one million solar water heaters by 2014 as this could save up to 3 000 megawatts - enough to supply a power plant.

Sanedi CEO Kevin Nassiep said the establishment of Sanedi will assist the green economy and job creation, among others.

"We also need to develop solutions for sustainable development in the future. South Africa needs to be a pioneer of innovation," he said.