South African Renewable Energy Council launches new chapter for the green economy

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The South African Renewable Energy Council (“SAREC”) was launched at a function at the SAREC Offices in Parkwood, Johannesburg. The Council is an umbrella body for all renewable energy industry associations in South Africa and founder members include SAPVIA (Solar Power) SASTELA (Solar thermal power); SESSA (Sustainable Energy) and SAWEA (Wind Energy).

The technologies represented are installing nearly 4,000 MW of new electricity into the South African Grid and have provided thousands of South African home with solar water heating, heat exchangers and rooftop solar power. Board member Davin Chown (SAPVIA) explained to guests how the vision of a single voice for the renewable energy industry had developed in the years leading up to the negotiation of the Green Economy Accord.

Pancho Ndebele, also a Board member representing SASTELA recounted the negotiations in NEDLAC and the collective decision made by the renewable energy industry: “Government wanted us to commit to the vision of a developmental state and to detail the contribution we would make to such a partnership approach”, he said. “We commited to forming an umbrella body that would exist as a single point of contact for Government and other stakeholders to engage the broader Renewable Energy Community.”

The thread was developed further by Johan van den Berg, SAREC Chair and board representative of SAWEA. He explained the significant progress made in setting up the Council, now fully functional in its new offices. “We are deeply indebted to GIZ for financial assistance and to Government officials for their support of our vision”, he said.

The circle was closed by Carryn Bateman, who represents SESSA on the SAREC Board. “When the Sustainable Energy Association of Southern Africa was formed in 1974, the vision was to be inclusive of all renewable energy”, she explained. “Over time, renewable energy has grown so much that dedicated associations are now needed for the larger technologies. SAREC is the logical continuation of the vision that launched SESSA forty years ago.” SAREC is presently filming a documentary on the socio-economic and community benefits of renewable energy. Projects procured during the first three rounds of Government’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme will invest over 11 billion rand into community development surrounding these plants over the next twenty years. The association is also working with the National Treasury on establishing how much money is saved by the renewable energy through offsetting of the so-called “peaker plants”, running at high capacity to alleviate the country’s acute shortage of electricity.

SAREC has presented to the parliamentary portfolio committee three times and foresees extensive further engagement with Government. “This is the start of a long journey”, Van den Berg concluded. “There is unprecedented opportunity to contribute to South Africa’s growth, and there are sure to be significant challenges. We look forward to witnessing progress in the years and decades to come.”

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