DEVELOPING nations have increased their investment in renewable energy by 36 percent, almost equaling investments made by developed nations.
Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21) executive secretary Christine Lins said Africa and Asia were among continents which had made substantial investments in the renewable energy sector.
Lins was speaking at a round-table discussion held at the South African International Renewable Energy Conference (Sairec), which opened at the Cape Town International Convention Centre yesterday.
In 2014, she said, developed countries invested $138.9 billion (R1.907 trillion), an increase of 3 percent compared to 2013, while developing countries invested $131.3bn, a major increase of 36 percent over the same period of time.
But, according to REN21, more than a billion people still do not have access to electricity.
The conference is being hosted by the government, the SA National Energy Development Institute (Sanedi) and REN21.
The conference runs over three days and about 3 000 delegates from the private, public and academic sector are expected to discuss strategies to accelerate the use of renewable energy.
Growth in the sector around the world, not only investment but in reaping rewards, particularly in South Africa, was a highlight of the discussion yesterday.
Lins said installed capacity and production from all renewable technologies had increased substantially.
“When we look at the last decade of renewables development, we see that things have changed rapidly, development has surpassed expectations.
“Many of the scenarios and targets set for the year 2010 were largely surpassed,” she said, adding that there had been significant cost reductions for most technologies while supportive policies spread throughout the world.
She said 60 percent of solar photovoltaics capacity in operation worldwide had been added over the past three years.
Lins said, however, there was still a long way to go as the world changed its energy reliance and made use of renewables.
She said renewable energy provided an estimated 19.1 percent of global final energy consumption in 2013, while fossil fuel still dominated at 78.3 percent and nuclear at 2.6 percent.
Renewable investment “champions” – the top five countries investing in renewable energy in 2014 – are China in first place, the US, Japan, the UK and then Germany.
Department of Energy acting director-general Wolsey Barnard said: “We have for 100 years based our electricity supply on one primary source, and only recently have we started to venture into renewable energies.”
He said the conference would create a more inclusive platform for African and other developing countries to showcase both their progress made to date, and opportunities in renewable energy space and the rapid development of the sector market in South Africa.
Kevin Nassiep, of Sanedi, said: “What is required for moving forward… from our perspective it is all about the co-ordination of renewable energy research and development in the renewable energy space. It’s very disbursed and unco-ordinated in many respects.
“There is good research being done – Stellenbosch University is an excellent centre. But it needs proper co-ordination.
He said skills development would also impact the growth of the sector.
“Setting up a new industry requires skills for installation, operation and maintenance, for construction and manufacturing, and this is all part and parcel of what is being done now,” he said.
Nassiep said the green economy was going to contribute largely towards job creation and South Africa was preparing to play a leading role in renewable energy deployment, driven by industry development – presently focused on importing skills and hardware – towards establishing South Africa in the implementation, manufacturing and minerals beneficiation sector.
- Cape Times
- Lisa Isaacs firstname.lastname@example.org