South Africa looks to Germany for support with developing its renewable resources

Renewable energy and energy efficiency were sectors with a lot of potential to scale up South African and German cooperation, said Southern African German Chamber of Commerce and Industry CEO Matthias Boddenberg this week.

This is not the first time that Boddenberg has looked at Germany to help South Africa develop its economy and infrastructure and in view of the amount of solar radiation at South Africa’s disposal, it seems like a logical step to call on Germany, long-time leader in renewables, to help exploit such renewable resources. “The sun is shining here more often than anywhere else in the world”, said Boddenberg, “and we must utilise this God-given gift for the well being of South Africa and our companies”.

The successful trade record between Germany and South Africa should facilitate such cooperation. In 2008, trade between the two nations totalled €12.6 billion, up over a billion on the previous year, with Germany remaining as South Africa’s principal trading partner, ahead of the USA and Japan. Germany also continues to be by far the most important supplier of South Africa’s imports, with regular annual growth rates of around 10% in recent years.

“In Germany, we have done several workshops informing South African and German companies of PV to solar thermal heating opportunities,” he told the South African news portal, Engineering News Online, earlier this week.

He also explained how the Chamber of Commerce and Industry had established its own affiliated association, the South African Biofuel Association, to promote an integrated system for renewable energies in South Africa.

Boddenberg also believes that the second phase of South Africa’s renewable energy feed-in-tariff (Refit) recently released by the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) will stimulate investment n the area of renewable energy projects. “From my point of view it could always be a little bit more, but we are glad that we have now found the first step in the right direction,” he said.

The second phase of the Refit included previously excluded technologies such as PV solar, where German expertise in this field is well respected. Germany could therefore soon be supplying this African nation with PV solar systems in an effort to boost South Africa’s use of renewable energy.

The South African Commerce and Industry is also conducting solar thermal installation training workshops, since a lack of capacity to install solar water heaters has been identified in the industry as one of the bottlenecks holding back the uptake of this energy saving technology. Again, Germany, with decades of experience in this area, could provide support.

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