Germany and South Africa: common action for green energy

Nov 11, 2016

Since 2013, Germany and South Africa have been closely working together in the framework of an energy partnership to enhance the production of renewable energies. Energy policy is therefore a central topic at the Binational Commission taking place on November 15 and 16 in Berlin.

Photovoltaic panels with sunflower Enlarge image (© picture-alliance/dpa) The sun shines on the South African ground for 8.7 hours. Almost every day. The coastline covers an area of nearly 3000 kilometres. The basic requirements for renewable energies could hardly be better in South Africa. This potential, however, can still be used better. According to a study in November 2016 conducted by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, renewable energies are the most cost effective option to shape South Africa’s energy mix for the future.

On the other hand there is Germany: Here, one third of electricity comes from renewable energy sources. From wind, solar and biomass - although the basic requirements are less reliable. Until 2025, 40 to 45 percent of used electricity shall be produced from renewable energy. Nevertheless, South Africa and Germany follow the same goal: more green energy.

Energy partnership

Ingula hydroelectric scheme in KwaZulu-Natal Enlarge image Ingula hydroelectric scheme in KwaZulu-Natal (© ESKOM) Both countries have been working together in the framework of an energy partnership since 2013. 

Germany and South Africa learn from each other - especially in terms of implementing and financing renewable energy projects. 

Improved energy efficiency and a shift of society towards an increased appreciation for sustainable energies is supported by the intensive dialogue.

The South African energy market is especially interesting for Germany for mainly two reasons: Firstly, South Africa is by far the greatest consumer of energy on the African continent, and is strongly dependent on energy-intensive industries. Secondly, the country sets an example for the remaining African states and is therefore an important partner for Germany to combat climate change.

Germany has been a pioneer in the area of renewable energies for years. Many German companies are therefore specialized in the sector of green energies and share their technical expertise with South Africa. This active participation of industries, companies, and research institutes is an important component of the energy partnership.

Great progress has been done in South Africa   

Solar power plant at the CSIR's Pretoria campus Enlarge image Solar power plant at the CSIR's Pretoria campus (© German Embassy Pretoria) Even though South Africa started to use renewable energy sources rather late, compared  to other countries, great progress can be seen already. Imagine 200 hectares covered in solar panels - that is 400 football fields. 

By this time, there are 25 projects like this in South Africa. Some are even bigger and there are a many smaller ones, as well. The German Corporation for International Cooperation (GIZ) mainly supported South Africa with the development of tendering systems.

The private and public sector, as well as foreign investors have so far invested 194 billion Rand in renewable energies. This is six times more than for the football stadiums needed for the World Cup in 2010. Meanwhile, consumer prices have dropped significantly, too, and do not - in contrast to Germany - produce any extra costs.

Potential for green energy is not fully exhausted yet

However, potentials for producing renewable energy are not being fully used yet. There are barely any solar panels on the rooftops in bigger cities or small villages, mainly because municipalities increase their budget by selling electric to the end-consumers.

German company juwi constructed the CSIR's solar PV facility Enlarge image German company juwi constructed the CSIR's solar PV facility (© German Embassy Pretoria) The German Embassy therefore works together with the districts to develop alternative funding systems. 

Additionally, the problem of residual load is aimed to be solved together, meaning to create a mechanism that ensures that the demand for energy can also be met when renewable energies are currently not generating enough electricity, for example when the sun is not shining.

© German Embassy Pretoria

Binational Commission 2016: Renewable Energy

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