Accelerating the Clean Energy Transition in South Africa
Leading U.S. and South African experts from industry, government, and the non-profit sector came together this week for thePowering South Africa with Cleaner & Smarter Energy Conference in Johannesburg, South Africa.
The event, co-sponsored by the Energy Department, was a great success. Laird Treiber, the Minister Counsellor for Economic Affairs in the American Embassy in South Africa; Karl Fickenscher, Deputy Coordinator of the Power AfricaInitiative; Nothemba Mlonzi, Chair of SANEDI’s Board of Directors; and Barry Bredenkamp, the Senior Manager for Energy Efficiency in SANEDI, provided keynote remarks, demonstrating the importance of cooperation on energy issues.
Why is the Energy Department engaged with South Africa? South Africa is an attractive destination for U.S. energy companies, and provides significant potential for reducing global greenhouse gas emissions through clean energy deployment. South Africa has the highest energy consumption in Africa, and has one of the largest economies on the continent. Energy engagement is particularly important now, as South Africa is facing its worst power crisis since 2008, with the potential for severe power shortages impacting many homes and businesses.
A real highlight of this week’s conference was the recognition of new partnerships that have formed as a result of theAccelerating Deployment of Clean Energy Solutions in South Africaproject launched by theOffice of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy(EERE) in 2014.
EERE’s South Africa project supports the U.S.–South Africa Energy Dialogue. Established in 2010 by the U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy and the South African Minister of Energy, this dialogue provides a platform for high ranking officials to discuss pressing issues that impact both the U.S. and South African energy sectors, and to identify collaborative projects that bring mutual benefit.
The EERE South Africa Project creates opportunities for large and small U.S. companies to better understand the South African business and policy environment, develop relationships with potential local partners, and demonstrate their products in South Africa’s growing market. At the Powering South Africa Conference this week, two new partnerships between U.S. and South African companies were formally recognized. As a result of these partnerships, a California start-up is now exporting to South Africa “cool” paints that efficiently cool buildings by reflecting the sun’s heat; and a Louisiana-based start-up is exporting highly efficient electrical transformers to South Africa.
U.S.–South African collaboration is also enriched through the development of university partnerships to expand capacity building and research for further technology development and deployment. The conference celebrated a new partnership between the Northern Cape Rural Further Education & Training College and the University of South Florida that will support collaboration on renewable energy research and education. A new agreement between the University of Florida and University of Pretoria will focus on training graduate students in South Africa to use state-of-the-art modelling software designed by the University of Florida to analyze energy savings opportunities in buildings.
Partnerships like these—between U.S. and South African government agencies, academic institutions, and private industry—can play an important role in helping South Africa achieve greater energy security and helping EERE achieve its mission of creating and sustaining American leadership in the transition a global clean energy economy.
EERE’s International Team accelerates the speed and scale of clean energy deployment through international collaboration. Learn more about the office’s work and this project.