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Addressing climate change through mitigation, adaptation activities in Namibia

By Dr Moses Amweelo

According to Intergovernmental Panel on climate Change (IPCC) 2001, mitigation refers to an anthropogenic intervention to reduce the sources or enhance the sinks of greenhouse gases.

These include the use of renewable energy sources and efficient technology among many other actions.

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Namibia developed a national climate change strategic and action plan 2013-2020 and two themes under mitigation namely: sustainable energy and prioritised low carbon development and transport.

Under these themes, the Ministry of Environment and Tourism has developed a programme called Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Action (NAMA) and it refers to any action that reduces emissions in developing countries and is prepared under the umbrella of national governmental initiatives.

They can be policies directed at transformational change within an economic sector, or actions across sectors for a broader national focus.

National appropriate mitigation actions are supported and enabled by technology, financing and capacity building and are aimed at achieving a reduction in emissions relative to business as usual emissions in 2020.

Namibia’s NAMA is focused on rural development in Namibia through electrification with renewable energy.

The NAMA programme presents an opportunity for sustainable development for Namibia, and, at the same time, an opportunity for mitigating greenhouse gas emissions.

The proposed programme was designed to support Namibia in achieving its strategies for rural electrification and to complement on-going activities in this field.

The programme’s overall target is to support Namibia in achieving the goal defined in the off-grid energisation master plan namely, to provide access to appropriate energy technologies to everyone living or working in off-grid areas.

In respect of transport, the Ministry of Environment and Tourism in collaboration with the City of Windhoek has developed a project proposal on low carbon transport in Windhoek.

The project aims at providing the necessary means for the development of a low-carbon city (that can be replicated to other towns in the country).

Windhoek is rapidly developing and so this project will set Windhoek city as a role model for sustainable transport in southern Africa.

The project would contribute to climate change mitigation through increased access to public and non-motorised transport and avoid increasing congestion and thus reduce Namibia’s dependence on imported fossil fuels.

Target actions would include construction of public transport, walking and cycling facilities, raising awareness of low-carbon transport options and vehicle fuel efficiency, strengthened institutional and regulatory systems for climate responsive planning, integration of climate change into land-use plans and renewal of the existing public vehicle fleet.

The project will be submitted to the Green Climate Fund, an operating entity of the financial mechanism of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which was adopted by 195 Parties at the end of 2011.

Its primary purpose is to promote a paradigm shift towards low-emission and climate-resilient development pathways in developing countries that are vulnerable to the impact of climate change.

The fund is intended to be the centrepiece of efforts to raise climate finance of US$100 billion per year by 2020.

Regarding adaptation activities in Namibia, climate change will affect everyone, all sectors and at many levels and it will have a profound impact on the entire chain of livelihood, economic growth and ecosystem.

This is proven by scientific modelling and prediction for the factor that the country is characteristic with most arid climate in southern Africa; hence our economy is already exposed to difficult and harsh conditions with water accessibility a serious threat.

Prolonged drought, although considered normal to some extent, has devastating impacts on livelihood, food availability, health and wellbeing in many of our rural communities.

Namibia has placed more focus on adaptation that is currently implemented under four key critical themes, that is, food security and sustainable biological resources; sustainable water resources base; human health and wellbeing; and infrastructure development.

To date, the Ministry of Environment and Tourism – which is responsible for planning, formulating and coordinating all climate change-related initiatives – has initiated notable interventions that aim to embrace national government/development plans towards a resilient nation.

The following programmes were initiated to address climate change adaptation namely: scaling up community resilience to climate variability and climate change in northern Namibia, with a special focus on women and children.

This project aims to strengthen the adaptive capacity to climate change and reduce the vulnerability of 4,000 households (80 percent of which are female headed) and children in 75 schools, to drought and floods in northern Namibia by scaling up the most promising adaptation pilots from Namibia’s community-based adaptation (CBA) programme and a Green Climate Fund project previously implemented as well as developing a response plan for the identification and prioritisation of technologies to address water scarcity in Namibia.

The Ministry of Environment and Tourism has developed a response plan for climate change adaptation technology that allows the country transition to sustainable water security.

The response plan was submitted to the Climate Technology Centre and Network, which is one of the arms of the UNFCCC responsible for facilitating and assisting the non-annex countries such as Namibia with relevant technologies to address impacts of climate change and advocacy on climate change awareness campaign.

The Ministry of Environment and Tourism in collaboration with Hanns Seidel Foundation and Desert Research Foundation of Namibia are conducting the public awareness workshops on climate change issues, to ensure that the information is disseminated to all interested and affected parties’ country wide.

Awareness raising efforts are a key feature of attaining the goals of our national climate change policy.

As such, cross-sectoral and multi-stakeholder initiatives, such as this collaboration, are of great importance to support education and public awareness for adapting to and mitigating the impacts of climate change and continuing to oversee the implementation of these activities in line with the Harambee Prosperity Plan.

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Source: southernafrican

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Futuristic cities that will take Africa’s tourism industry by storm

Inspired by the need to provide sustainable living for her people, including access to sustainable energy, transport and housing; Africa is seen to take up the tech challenge by investing billions of dollars in the development of tech futuristic cities. The continent is surely making a global mark with its avant-garde innovations, from cutting edge cities to mobile money payment technologies; a move that has attracted the attention of global innovators such as Facebook’s Founder Mark Zuckerberg.

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While almost every sector of the African economy is set to benefit from the innovations, the tourism industry will no doubt have a big share from the developments. Sprouting tech cities will become major tourist attractions; if not for the magnificent beauty, for proof to many that Africa is not about desolation but rather of absolute determination to overcome all odds and stand tall in the face of the world.

Visitors will also be attracted to other destinations in the continent, to experience the beautiful naturalistic existence between man and nature. For instance, during his recent tour of Africa, Zuckerberg not only visited various technology hubs in Nigeria and Kenya, but also “got to see amazing natural beauty and wildlife from around Lake Naivasha” as he posted on his Facebook page. Jumia Travel, Africa’s leading online hotel booking portal, lists 5 budding futuristic cities, that are set to boost the continent’s tourism industry.

1. Konza Technology City – Kenya

In its official website, Konza is described as a sustainable green city with smart technology that will attract 17,000 jobs, $400 million in annual wages and generate $1.3 billion in GRP in Phase 1. This world class technology hub is considered a major economic driver for Kenya, that will help the country attain middle-income status by 2030. Located on a 5,000 acres of land 60 kilometers South of Nairobi in Machakos, the multi-billion dollar ‘Silicon Savannah’ will be a software development hub as well as a business process outsourcing (BPO) hub, with a vibrant mix of amenities. Konza is set to complete in a span of 20 years and its ground was broken in March this year.

2 . Hope City – Ghana

H ope to mean “Home, Office, People and Environment”, Hope City was launched in March 2013 by President John Mahama and is considered Ghana’s Technopolis; and will become one of the tallest skyscrapers in Africa at 270 meter high. Located approximately 30 minutes West of Accra in Prampram, Hope City sits on about 1.5 million square meters’ area and is set to transform Ghana into West Africa’s tech hub. Once completed, Hope City will provide business, leisure and residential space for about 25,000 inhabitants and aims at creating a whooping 50,000 jobs; including in the hospitality industry.

3. Eko Atlantic City – Lagos, Nigeria

This ambitious project in Lagos Nigeria is built on the reclaimed land from Atlantic Ocean off Ahmadu Bello Way on Victoria Island and will host approximately 250,000 residents while creating job opportunities to about 150,000 others. Eko Atlantic City which is expected to use self-sustaining green energy sources for power, aims at enhancing Nigeria’s status as a stronger tech and financial hub in Africa. It is set for completion this year.

4 . Safari City – Tanzania

This satellite city located in Mateves, Arusha, Tanzania, offers this East African country an opportunity to provide sustainable living to its citizens. As its name implies, Safari City will also give safari tourists a chance to stay in world class accommodation while touring Tanzania’s northern parks and the magnificent Mount Kilimanjaro. This will go a long way in boosting the country’s tourism and hospitality industry, gaining more confidence from both local and international tourists.

5 . Centenary City – Abuja, Nigeria

Another one from Nigeria, Centenary City will boast of an inter-connected urban center with cutting edge technology characterized by various amenities including world-class hotels and resorts. While it is expected to serve as an economic and political tool to secure foreign investment for Abuja and Nigeria as a country, the technopolis will also be a major attraction for both local and foreign visitors; due to its luxurious touch of style. This will boost revenue inflow from the tourists and a ripple effect will be witnessed in the entire tourism and hospitality industry in the country.
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Source: hospitalitynet

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Burning waste could provide Africa with 20% of its electricity needs

Producing electricity from urban solid waste could provide energy for up to 40 million African households in 2025, according to a study co-authored by the European Commission Joint Research Centre (JRC).

In a report published in Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, JRC researchers determined the potential of recovering energy from trash by using landfill gas and waste incineration, and found that it could have provided more than 20 percent of the continent’s total energy consumption in 2010.

Where there are humans, there’s trash, and an awful lot of it, too. Over the past century, we somehow managed to increase our annual waste generation 10-fold, going from producing 110 million tonnes per year in 1900, to 1.1 billion tonnes in 2000. By 2025, household trash could amount to a staggering 2.2 billion tonnes each year globally.

With its booming population, economic growth and increasing urbanisation, Africa is currently struggling to tackle the growing amounts of refuse that accompany development – a lack of infrastructure and environmentally friendly options is hampering the efforts countries take to make sure trash doesn’t become a massive problem in Africa’s future. Especially in rural areas, garbage is often simply burned without regard for pollution, or dumped in landfills without protecting groundwater.

“The poor waste management in Africa has important consequences for the disposal of uncollected waste in dumps and the associated severe environmental and health related problems,” the authors note. “Improvements in waste management are needed [and] the use of the energy content of waste could be one of the leading ideas for such progress.”

There are two ways in which urban waste in Africa can be used for energy production, and both involve fire. Waste-to-energy (WTE) incineration plants use burning trash to produce steam for generator turbines. They are especially popular in Europe, which boasted 472 such facilities back in 2010, out of over 600 found around the world.

However, they are not suitable for all African cities, because WTE plants are expensive to build and require stringent emissions controls to avoid polluting the atmosphere with toxic by-products.

For now, most cities in Africa generate large amounts of organic waste, and bury them in landfills. As stuff decomposes, these landfills generate a cocktail of polluting gasses – especially methane and carbon dioxide. If these gasses are captured and filtered, they can be burned in gas turbines, internal combustion engines, and steam boilers to generate electricity.

In their report, JRC researchers estimated that through proper waste management a whopping 83.8 TWh of electricity required by the continent in 2025 could be generated from trash.

While the information is theoretical and actual numbers would depend on the type of waste collected, as well as how efficiently the energy recovery was performed, it’s clear that smart use of trash could alleviate energy poverty in many African countries, where millions of people still don’t have access to the grid.

Source: sciencealert

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South Africa is becoming a leader in renewable energy

South Africa is on its way to becoming a renewable energy leader with billions being invested in creating clean and efficient energy. A recent study revealed that renewable energy including wind and solar benefited South Africa by as much as R5.3-billion in 2014.
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A zero carbon scenario, grid autonomy and wheeling will be some of the fascinating talking points for energy industry experts who gather at the Sustainable Energy

Book your seat now to avoid disappointment!
Book your seat now to avoid disappointment!

Seminar. This two day conference takes place on Wednesday, 24 and Thursday, 25 June 2015 during the annual alive2green Sustainability Week at the CSIR International Convention Centre in Pretoria.

The process of adding electricity to the grid in one place and taking it out at another, commonly known as wheeling, has been dubbed a potential catalyst for South Africa’s transition to renewable energy – could this approach open the flood gates? As energy producers gain direct access to end users by wheeling their clean energy through the Eskom grid, the market begins to open up, allowing market forces to push efficiencies up and prices down.

The possibilities opening up for gas generation, both at the utility and on site scale and the prospect of reducing national Green House Gas emissions is beginning to look highly possible, if not probable. Strategies to achieve grid autonomy through efficiency and on site generation will be discussed at the 2015 Sustainable Energy Seminar, a not-to-be-missed event, attracting the country’s leading experts in sustainable energy.

“There is an urgent need to reduce fossil fuel dependency, reduce our carbon footprint and diversify the energy mix and supply. Renewable energy is an attractive solution to many problems, the most important of these being security of supply, because resources are abundant and sustainable with the advantage of relatively quick implementation times, creation of work opportunities and a lower long-term impact on the environment,” says Dr Karen Surridge-Talbot, centre manager for the Renewable Energy Centre of Research and Development (RECORD) at the South African National Energy Development Institute (SANEDI). Surridge-Talbot will share insights from SANEDI’s flagship projects at the Seminar.

South Africa has one of the best solar regimes in the world and the question is how best to harness this renewable energy resource. Dr Chris Haw, director of Aurora Power Group and the co-founder of the South African Photovoltaic Industry Association will discuss solar energy for commercial energy users with helpful case studies from his experience at SOLA Future Energy.

Valuable insights about redox flow batteries will be shared by Mulilo project engineer, Tim Crombie and Etienne Gerber, technical head at Mitochondria Energy Company (Pty) Ltd will discuss hydrogen fuel cells. Dr Tobias Bischof-Niemz from the CSIR will speak about the council’s integrated energy initiative and opportunities for renewables in South Africa.

The Sustainable Energy Seminar
will include riveting discussions on renewable energy generation potential versus the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPP) programme, wheeling, natural gas as an alternative energy source in South Africa, autonomy from Eskom – going off the grid and sustainable energy at city scale. Each session in the Sustainable Energy Seminar will begin with an expert panel of 20 minute presentations, followed by a question and answer session with input from the audience.

“We have a crucial role to play in enabling the transition from a carbon-intensive economy to more efficient low-carbon alternatives. The reduction of electricity consumption and increased rollout of renewable energy alternatives is a critical aspect of this transition,” says Dr Marco Lotz, Sustainability Carbon Specialist of Nedbank Group.

The Sustainable Energy Seminar
, sponsored by Nedbank, SANEDI, UNIDO, BASF, Massbuild and Participate Technologies forms part of the larger Sustainability Week, organised by alive2green, which runs from Tuesday, 23 to Sunday, 28 June. Affiliated partners of the Sustainable Energy Seminarinclude: PIESA, SESSA, SAEE, REEEP, TAPPSA, SAAEA and NBI.

Sustainability Week is hosted by the City of Tshwane which has a vision to become a low carbon, resource efficient and climate resilient city by 2055. Executive Mayor of Tshwane Councillor Kgosientso Ramogkopa said, “Sustainability Week is a vital gathering for experts and leaders alike to champion urban sustainability for future generations. Energy efficiency is at the heart of this challenge – it cannot be overlooked.”

For more information on Sustainability Week, visit

Source: Media Update

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The fields of ENERGY EFFICIENCY AND RENEWABLE ENERGY are converging fast through onsite energy solutions and new clean energy grid offerings. The REIPPP project is underway with billions being invested, transforming SA into a renewable energy leader, but ‘wheeling’ – the process of adding electricity to the grid in one place and taking it out at another, could open the flood gates! As producers gain direct access to end users by wheeling their clean energy through the Eskom grid, the market begins to open up, allowing market forces to push efficiencies up and prices down.
The fields of ENERGY EFFICIENCY AND RENEWABLE ENERGY are converging fast through onsite energy solutions and new clean energy grid offerings. The REIPPP project is underway with billions being invested, transforming SA into a renewable energy leader, but ‘wheeling’ – the process of adding electricity to the grid in one place and taking it out at another, could open the flood gates! As producers gain direct access to end users by wheeling their clean energy through the Eskom grid, the market begins to open up, allowing market forces to push efficiencies up and prices down.

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South African Department of Energy announces results of its latest Renewable Energy Independent Power Producers Programme

BioTherm Energy and Enel Green Power among the preferred project bidders named in the fourth round of the REIPPP initiative.

BioTherm Energy, a South African entity and an African-based independent power producer (IPP), has secured preferred bidder appointment for three projects: the 120MW Golden Valley Wind facility, 45MW Aggeneys Solar PV and 86MW Konkoonsies II Solar PV Facility, totaling 251MW of installed capacity.

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Book your seat now to avoid disappointment!

The African utility successfully constructed and now operates 49MW of wind and solar projects secured in Round 1 of the REIPPP Program. In addition, it owns and operates a 4.2MW waste gas project at the PetroSA Gas-to-Liquids (GTL) Refinery in Mossel Bay, Western Cape.

“This 251MW allocation by the Department of Energy reflects our ability to compete directly with leading international players who have come to dominate the South African landscape,” said Jasandra Nyker, BioTherm Energy CEO. “We appreciate the Department of Energy’s commitment to supporting a South African development and investment platform in this round.”

In addition, to being awarded preferred bidder status for the wind and solar projects in South Africa, the company has recently garnered success in the rest of Africa. It was awarded preferred bidder status on four solar power projects in Zambia and secured two preferred bidder solar projects in Burkina Faso. BioTherm Energy was also finalist in the Ugandan GET FiT solar facility program and is actively developing greenfield opportunities in East and West Africa.

BioTherm’s focus on sub-Saharan Africa is equally important to its growth strategy in South Africa,” Nyker added. “Regionalized growth of renewable energy such as wind or solar offers significant economic development and assists in improving the local manufacturing and services value chain. The recent announcement of the Round 4 projects adds to South Africa’s energy evolution and is a further step towards establishing a sustainable, low-carbon environment.”

Enel Green Power, for its part, won energy supply contracts for three wind power projects, including the Oyster Bay project that had been developed by RES. The 142MW Oyster Bay wind farm will comprise 43 turbines and generate in excess of 560GWh per year. Once complete, the project is expected to displace more than half a million tonnes of CO2 in each year of operation, making a dent in carbon emissions by offsetting the economy’s reliance on coal-fired generation.

“We are delighted that the Oyster Bay wind project has received preferred bidder status from the South African Department for Energy,” said Duncan Ayling, development director for RESSouthern Africa. “Such high wind energy sites represent excellent value for money for South Africans and bring socio-economic benefits to the local community through job creation, enterprise development and community trust schemes.”
Oyster Bay will be majority-owned, built and operated by Enel Green Power, a leading European renewable energy power producer. Between now and financial close, RES will continue to support the project and deliver development services in cooperation with Enel Green Power.

Source: Renewable Energy Focus

The opportunities to address the sustainability imperative arising from the current and numerous challenges facing African cities are tremendous. Exploring these is the main objective of the AFRICAN CAPITAL CITIES SUSTAINABILITY FORUM. Supported by appropriate policies, design ingenuity, innovation, technical proficiency, robust implementation mechanisms and adequate infrastructural investments, African cities can reach high levels of quality of urban life, improving drastically their environmental footprints while reaching highly competitive economic prosperity in the medium to long term. Ensuring that the most rapidly developing cities in the world develop sustainably is arguably the most important objective on the planet. Ending the negative spiral of poverty and dependence will be the reward for bold actions now!
The opportunities to address the sustainability imperative arising from the current and numerous challenges facing African cities are tremendous. Exploring these is the main objective of the AFRICAN CAPITAL CITIES SUSTAINABILITY FORUM. Supported by appropriate policies, design ingenuity, innovation, technical proficiency, robust implementation mechanisms and adequate infrastructural investments, African cities can reach high levels of quality of urban life, improving drastically their environmental footprints while reaching highly competitive economic prosperity in the medium to long term. Ensuring that the most rapidly developing cities in the world develop sustainably is arguably the most important objective on the planet. Ending the negative spiral of poverty and dependence will be the reward for bold actions now!

Stakeholders in sustainability building to convene at Sustainability Week in Pretoria

This year’s Sustainability Week is set to accelerate the total number of sustainability projects, under the theme ‘Get ready to put ideas in motion.’ Thought leaders, policy makers, practitioners and producers within the country and beyond will share their knowledge at Sustainability Week, hosted by alive2green from 23 to 28 June 2015 at the CSIR International Convention Centre in Pretoria – undoubtedly a highlight in the annual environmental calendar.

This year’s Sustainability Week programme boasts an impressive 14 seminars which offer excellent opportunities for various stakeholders to share ideas to ultimately improve environmental and economic performance. An exciting addition to the programme, African Capital Cities Sustainability Forum, hosted by the City of Tshwane, will seek to lay the foundation for African cooperation at city level and urban scale.

In addition to the extended Green Building and Sustainable Energy programmes, three new seminars on Mining, Manufacturing and Infrastructure have been introduced.

African Capital Cities Sustainability Forum

The African Capital Cities Sustainability Forum will explore various opportunities to address the sustainability imperative arising from the current and numerous challenges African cities face on a daily basis. African cities can reach high levels of quality urban life when supported by appropriate policies, design ingenuity, innovation, technical proficiency, robust implementation mechanisms and adequate infrastructural investments.

This will ultimately improve their environmental footprints while reaching highly competitive economic prosperity in the medium to long term. Ensuring that the most rapidly developing cities in the world develop sustainably is arguably the most important objective on the planet.

Green Building Conference

Green Buildings is rapidly becoming the norm for new large building projects. New design strategies, building materials and approaches are contributing to an ever more innovative and rapidly changing environment. This year’s ninth annual Green Building Conference will share the latest thinking, perspectives, case studies and projects as they unfold.

Professor Barbara Norman, Chair of Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Canberra and Tomohiko Amemiya who worked on the award winning Slum Housing Project, Megacity Skeleton in Jakarta are among the international built environment experts that will share knowledge at this conference.

Water Resource Seminar

Water scarcity is a reality in South Africa and will become ever more apparent as climate change intensifies. Demand and supply-side management are two key strategies in protecting against absolute scarcity. Water efficiency is vital to the sustainability of our water resource on the demand side. On the supply side, it is imperative that issues such as pollution, land-use management, groundwater management, ecological infrastructure and acid mine drainage management are considered. Leading experts will present the latest technologies and best practice at this informative seminar.

Vision Zero Waste Seminar

South Africa is experiencing a waste explosion with landfills overflowing and production and disposal not slowing down. The Vision Zero Waste Seminar will see leading industry, government and related NGO executives, as well as fringe stakeholders, such as the Pickers, report back on actions and initiatives. The session will grapple with strategies and best practice required to achieve a stepped-up level of recycling in the country, with a dual focus on separation at source and profitability for businesses.

Sustainable Energy Seminar

Energy efficiency and renewable energy are converging fast into one bold new field – smart energy. This seminar will explore the idea that every effort should be made to redesign and reconfigure processes to be more energy efficient and reduce peak demand.

Green Business Seminar

Market forces are such a powerful driver of ingenuity and innovation that they have created the modern world with all its wonders, and all its terrors. How do we harness the market to a significantly greater degree to drive South Africa towards a green economy? This is the key question the Green Business Seminar will seek to answer.

Transport and Mobility Seminar

Mobility is a human right, but for most urban-based Africans movement across our cities has become an economic inhibitor. Poor urban planning and rapid urbanisation has resulted in massive pressure on ailing infrastructure.

Transport is a high impact sector, with tail pipe emissions accounting for a high percentage of national GHG emissions per country. The transport sector needs constant maintenance, upgrading, and rolling out of new roads, which ultimately affects communities and the biosphere in profound ways. A key strategy to reduce these impacts is to invest in rail infrastructure and to create the economic conditions to entice appropriate freight to move from truck to rail.

Transport networks can also have significant economic benefits. Projects to connect African countries can pave the way for much greater Africa-to-Africa trade, bolstering African industries and creating employment. Regional and international experts will present thought-provoking projects that are leading the change in respect of these considerations.

Food Security Seminar

Political instability, uneven access to resources and funding, poverty, skills shortages, a lack of interest in farming among young rural people, and a changing climate are just some of the complex factors that perpetuate food insecurity among Africans. This seminar invites thought leaders and experts in the field of food security, agriculture and related industries, to share the latest thinking and examples of best practice, presenting the changing face of African agriculture.  Discussions will contribute to the formulation of consensus on the best course for African countries.

Sustainability in Mining Seminar

Mining is South Africa’s most important sector, employing hundreds of thousands of workers. Mining IQ mentions that the mining industry contributes an average of 20% to South Africa’s GDP and boasts a total annual income exceeding R330 billion. Mining and all extractive industries have a heavy impact on communities and the environment, but not all mines are planned, run, and decommissioned in the same manner.

This new seminar will bring mining executives and other stakeholders together to share knowledge and best practice approaches to energy and water use, waste generation and reclamation, effluent creation and treatment, transport and social issues. Don’t miss this ground breaking addition to Sustainability Week.

Green Manufacturing and Supply Chain Seminar

Localisation of inputs is critically important for the ongoing development of South Africa’s manufacturing sector. Companies will compare experiences and best practice in finding ways to localise manufacturing along the supply chain, seek out energy, water and waste efficiencies, protect communities and the environment, and compete locally and internationally. This session will invite companies that have chosen this approach and are benefiting commercially as a direct result.

Sustainable Infrastructure Seminar

A sustainable society and economy must rely on infrastructure that supports it. Reducing the environmental impact of the built environment can be advanced through the design, construction and operation of green buildings, but the fundamental key to achieving this is a matter of infrastructure.

Similarly, reducing tail pipe emissions in the transport sector can be advanced through fuel efficient logistics and vehicles, but again this is a matter of infrastructure. The same goes for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by reducing demand through efficiency, but the fundamental key to achieving this objective is to ramp up the percentage of renewable generation in the grid, which is a matter of infrastructure.

Other items on the Sustainability Week programme include a Responsible Tourism Dialogue, a panel discussion for Youth and the Green Economy as well as a Green Home Fair with an organic market and household products for green living, scheduled to take place at Brooklyn Mall.

Source: Construction Review Online



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Clean, renewable power makes good business sense

By Edna Molewa

In December last year, one of the largest solar energy plants in Africa was connected to the national grid. The Sishen Solar Energy Facility will have the highest level of electricity output of all the operational photovoltaic plants in Africa — an equivalent of 100,000 households’ consumption.

Its significance lies in three “Cs”: construction time, cost and carbon footprint.

Despite its size, it took 16 months to build. The cost of the facility is about R2bn — versus an estimated R91bn for an average-sized coal-fired power station.

Clean energy will be used at the plant. According to Acciona Energia, the technology being used at the facility will avoid about 208,000 tonnes of CO² emissions.

The plant came online as the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) released the results of a study into the increasing financial benefit of renewables in SA. It found that energy from SA’s (first window) wind and solar (photovoltaic) projects created R800m more financial benefits to the country than they cost during 2013. This amounted to a financial benefit of R3.7bn in diesel and coal fuel cost savings.

These figures give pause for thought to naysayers who argue that renewables are light years away from achieving the baseload capacity needed. If one considers that these first projects have generated about 3,922MW of renewable power — with an additional 4,000MW expected to go online by the end of the next window, what has been achieved is impressive.

Developing baseload should and does happen incrementally — and over time. Our achievements are all the more impressive if we take into account that this has taken place over a mere two and a half years.

Renewable energy is becoming cheaper, faster and cleaner.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance forecasts that the growing need for power in Africa will see about 1.8GW of renewable energy capacity being commissioned in the region this year — more than the amount that came online during the past 14 years combined.

With or without subsidies or incentives, renewable energy sources retain a competitive advantage over fossil fuel sources.

Technology costs are also falling.

Over the first three project windows in SA, prices have steadily dropped; with photovoltaic tariffs decreasing by about 68% and wind dropping 42%, in nominal terms. By the fourth window, they are expected to drop even further.

According to the CSIR, the cost per kilowatt hour of renewable energy for new projects is now far less than R1 for solar photovoltaic and 60c-80c for wind projects — thereby “keeping the net financial benefits of renewables positive, even in a future with a less constrained power system”.

Unlike many other countries, there is no policy or regulatory uncertainty. In last year’s state of the nation address, President Jacob Zuma emphasised the importance of a sustainable energy mix.

The Integrated Resource Plan clearly outlines the vision for a sustainable energy mix for SA that includes the use of fossil fuels, renewables, alternative energy and nuclear. It is a vision further supported by the National Development Plan.

In a Guardian Sustainable Business article last year, analysts cited SA as a “good role model on renewables” because of its competitive tendering process that both “align(s) with the long-term goals of government and also creates sustainable jobs locally”.

Although the World Bank has noted that renewable energy projects have resulted in improvement in economic development commitments, particularly as this relates to benefiting rural communities, those responsible in the public sector should ensure that this translates into real benefit for South Africans: both in terms of job creation, as well as localisation. As local renewable energy projects steadily increase their contribution to stabilising the grid, several businesses, among them several JSE-listed firms, are producing their own energy, much of it produced as part of industrial processes, such as sewage processing, sugar refining and paper making.

They are working with us, as the government, as co-generators of energy through the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producers Procurement Programme.

For example, sugar giants Tongaat Hulett and Illovo produce energy from sugar bagasse and trash at their milling plants.

Paper producer Sappi uses pine-tree resin removed before the pulp-and-paper production process to fuel boilers that supply steam to its turbines, enabling the company to meet about 50% of its own energy needs. Companies are able to sell the surplus to Eskom by means of power purchase agreements.

Others are reportedly researching biogas. A local company, Bio2Watt, is already generating energy from methane collected from waste at one of the country’s largest feedlots. These businesses are innovating in response to the collective energy challenges we all face: taking the lead in investing in their own energy in ways that are both cost-effective and green.

Their initiatives should be both welcomed and emulated.

We, as the government, are not far behind. Late last year, Zuma opened Environment House, the Department of Environmental Affairs’s new headquarters.

Not only does the building harness solar energy, it has state-of-the-art water-saving mechanisms, as well as an onsite grey-water treatment works — setting the standard for the type of government buildings that we hope to have in the future.

The Department of Public Works is tasked with the implementation of the government’s Energy Efficiency Programme in all government buildings. This will see, among other things, existing buildings being retrofitted.

Although not all sectors are able to generate their own energy, we are leading by example.

Because, ultimately, energy saving is everyone’s responsibility.

Independent generation using clean energy sources makes business sense. It is cost-effective, reduces uncertainty caused by often unpredictable power cuts, and reduces demand on the national grid.

As lack of access to stable electricity continues to hamper economic growth in Africa, renewable energy holds immense transformative potential.

The climate is ripe for this kind of investment. The number of renewable energy investments SA has attracted in the past three years outstrips those undertaken across the entire continent in the past 20 years.

The International Energy Agency predicts the sub-Saharan African economy as a whole could be boosted by as much as 30% by 2040 under certain conditions, namely greater investment in the power sector, more co-operation on cross-border energy projects, and better resource and energy revenue management.

Addressing this country’s energy challenges that we collectively face requires lateral thinking, innovation and vision.

Falling global oil prices should not delay a transition to cleaner energy, by putting low-carbon projects on the back burner in favour of traditional coal-and diesel-powered electricity.

Working with the private sector, we ultimately aim for such innovative renewable energy initiatives to become mainstream — so that they become the norm, as opposed to the exception.

Molewa is Minister of Environmental Affairs.

Source: BDayLive


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Advanced solar thermal systems for residential and commercial applications

With the natural growth of the solar industry in South Africa, we are now able to access materials and equipment that were previously unavailable. As consumers are becoming more and more aware of solar water heating, the demand for larger, more advanced systems has grown. Integration of various heat sources and heat demands is now possible, using carefully designed and sometimes patented hydraulic components.

Changes to the National Building Regulations have also created demand for integrated solar thermal systems that incorporate additional heating demands such as swimming pools and space heating. The integration of multiple heat sources and heating demands has in the past been a rather complex matter, since the design and control of these systems requires some careful planning. Access to more efficient pumps has enabled these complex systems to be finely managed to ensure the most effective delivery of renewable energy to the right place, at the right time, at the right temperature.

Fortunately for us (or unfortunately, depending on your viewpoint), we are able to learn from others in the global industry and we now have access to solutions that make the task of implementing world class solar thermal solutions much easier that is had been before.

A number of fundamental principles are paramount in the design and effective execution of these systems:

• Fresh water heating technology • Stratification
• Flow modulation
• Monitoring

Figure 1 Plant room incorporating efficient technologies
Figure 1 Plant room incorporating efficient technologies

Let us look at these principles in more detail

Fresh Water Technology

The term is slightly misleading and derives its origin from the German“Frischwasser”, which is used to describe a component that provides instantaneous hot water, on demand, without storing the heated water. In these fresh hot water systems, the heating of the sanitary hot water takes place in a heat exchanger that draws its heat from the solar (or otherwise) heated buffer tanks. Hot water to be delivered to the demand points is never stored or kept in a heated state in a sealed vessel. The buffer tanks therefore become nothing more that static thermal batteries that store kilowatt hours in an inert medium, water. The water in these buffer tanks remains heated and insulated in a closed sealed loop to the various heat exchangers, allowing the system to draw from this stored heat as and when required.

This has a number of advantages:

  • Reduced heat loss from distributed small volume storage
  • More efficient heat delivery
  • Diverse temperature delivery from one integrated system
  • Significant reduction in turbulence in the stored water (buffer)
  • Dramatically reduced pathogen growth and reduced health risk
Figure 2 Legionella pneumophilla (National Health Service UK, 2012)
Figure 2 Legionella pneumophilla (National Health Service UK, 2012)

The last point above is perhaps the most crucial of all, since we live in a society where the average consumer may very well be living with a compromised immune system and would be much more vulnerable to contracting respiratory disease. The main culprit in hot water is a bacterium of the genus Legionella, which is spread in fine water droplets (aerosols) and can lead to an acute respiratory condition known as Legionnaires’ disease (World Health Organisation, 2007). This bacteria thrives in stagnant water in temperatures of between 30°C and 50°C, and can survive in temperatures beyond these limits. The use of fresh water heating systems provides a means to deliver hot water without the risk of bacterial incubation, thereby ensuring safe, clean, uncontaminated hot water. This is especially important in health care and hospitality applications where infectious diseases can spell disaster.

For detailed information about Legionella in the South African context, consult the recently published South African National Standard for Legionella Control, published 13th May 2013 (SANS893) (Ecosafe, 2013)


The concept of stratification in hot water systems refers to the fact that layers of water at various temperatures naturally separate due to density differences, with the hottest water at the top and the cooler water at the bottom. The use of plate heat exchangers to transfer the heat to the required heating demands allows low circulation rates, thereby reducing turbulence and encouraging the stratification effect. This technique is often referred to as the ‘low flow’ or ‘single pass’ and is characterised by mass flow rates of approximately 5-20kg/m2h (AEE – Institute for Sustainable Technologies, 2009). There are a number of distinct advantages to stratification:

• Target temperatures at the top of the buffer are rapidly achieved
• Solar collector efficiency is increased due to lower inlet temperatures
• Reduced auxiliary heating demand
• Lower mass flow rates mean smaller pipe dimensions and also smaller pumps can be used The overall effect of correctly applied stratification is a reduction in the total energy required to

run the system, and a resultant reduction in total system cost (German Solar Energy Society, 2010)

Flow Modulation

Flow in piping is a much misunderstood and highly dynamic issue within solar heating design in South Africa. The vast majority of designers/installers do not consider the flow rate when designing or implementing larger scale solar thermal systems. In fact, many of them interviewed indicated that they gave it no consideration at all, beyond ‘is the fluid moving or not’ (Students, 2013).

The truth is that flow rates in solar thermal systems are absolutely crucial and can make the difference between warm water and hot water, no matter how cleverly contrived the rest of the design may be.

For example:
• High flow rates use high power pumps, increase electrical consumption and friction losses. • High flow rates may cause the disruption of stratification within the buffer tanks
• High flow rates accelerate deterioration within heat exchangers


  • Low flow rates reduce the electrical energy required to run pumps and also reduces the

    friction losses in the piping.

  • Low flow rates allow effective stratification within buffer tanks
  • Low flow rates increase the efficiency of solar thermal collectors, by lowering the collector

    inlet temperatures.

  • Low flow rates increase the temperature at the outlet of both heat exchangers and solar

    collectors, thereby allowing the target temperature required in the buffer tanks to be reached more rapidly. (German Solar Energy Society, 2010)

Thanks to the demand for more efficient pumps in the EU and elsewhere, we are able to access pumps and controls that allow speed management of single phase hot water circulators. By implementing a control strategy that dynamically adjusts the flow rate according to temperatures and temperature differences, the total system efficiency is increased, not only as a result of reduced pumping power, but as a result of more efficient solar harvesting (German Solar Energy Society, 2010). In its simplest form, a solar differential controller measures the temperature at the hottest point in the system, compares it to the coldest point in the system and adjusts the pump speed up or down accordingly. In other words, the pump will dynamically increase or decrease its speed as the solar input varies throughout the day. This is particularly important in a climate where summer thunderstorms are prevalent, since the solar circuit will adjust for the reduced radiation during the storms, thereby ensuring efficient solar harvesting.

Flow modulation is also critical in fresh water heating systems, which could easily be called the inverse of solar heating circuits – instead of changing the buffer with thermal energy, they discharge thermal energy in a controlled manner. Flow modulation is again very important, since the variable speeds of the pumps on either side of the fresh water heating system heat exchanger will ensure that the target temperature is immediately reached.

In addition, variable speed pumps form an integral part of energy efficient hot water circulation in buildings. By reducing the rate at which the water is moved in the circuit, the heat losses are reduced and the pumping power is consequently reduced.

Many advanced controllers, notably the range produced by Resol, Germany, are able to handle multiple circuits at once, and can be expanded to accommodate multiple stores (buffers) and multiple collector arrays, all with fine pump control included.


In order to deliver the best results from an efficiently designed and correctly installed solar thermal system, one cannot expect to operate on the ‘fire and forget’ principle. On the contrary, by monitoring the performance of the system post-commissioning, the set points, flow rates, pressures and other important parameters can be adjusted to reflect the operational realities of the system within its installed context.

Fortunately, many of the control systems allow data logging and display, using very basic components and a reliable data (internet) connection. In some cases, such as with Resol and their vBus. net service, the framework upon which one can build a monitoring portfolio is provided free of charge.

Monitoring of almost all states and values in the solar thermal system is possible, with the following being the primary metrics:

• Temperature
• Temperature difference
• Heat quantity delivered (kWh) • Flow rate
• Volume delivered
• Pressure
• Radiation
• Run time
• Clock time

This may seem to many to be an‘over engineered’solution, but the reality is that energy delivery is greatly increased if the setpoints are adjusted once the system is commissioned (German Solar Energy Society, 2010)

An important fact about monitoring solar thermal systems is also often overlooked here in South Africa. By allowing insight into the performance of a particular solar thermal system, the installer is showing confidence that the system will deliver energy as predicted, according to the client’s expectations. Publicly displayed data can be a double-edged sword, and one has to be very sure that one’s design is correct before exposing oneself to criticism. In other words, those that are brave enough to share the recorded data with their clients, are confident enough that the system will do as it was designed to do – deliver heat consistently and efficiently.

Recent experience (Author, personal experience, Midrand, 2013) showed that by adjusting various temperature set points within the solar differential controller of a large scale solar thermal system, delivery of energy improved by an estimated 10%. Additionally, the live display of data allowed the author to monitor the results of the adjustments to ensure that in fact the changes were positive.

The graph below clearly shows the increased temperature after certain adjustments were made to the system:

Figure 3 display of recorded data (SEG Solar Energy (Pty)Ltd, 2013)
Figure 3 display of recorded data (SEG Solar Energy (Pty)Ltd, 2013)

The adjustments referred to above are only one of the many improvements that have been, and will continue to be made to improve the performance of the system. The most positive spin-off of this initial monitoring is that the installer of this system has been awarded a second contract on site, with an expected volume of 12 000l.

For the client, the benefit has been not only the improvement of performance of the system, but it has highlighted the excessive water consumption on site. The result is that water usage is expected to drop dramatically in 2014, once the installation of efficient shower heads is completed.

Further developments in these systems will allow contractors to manipulate the set points of solar thermal systems remotely, with the use of a pc or tablet device. In other words, immediate adjustments can be made without a physical presence on site, and the work performed can be billed accordingly, without the service provider ever leaving the office.

Products and Solutions for Advanced Solar Thermal Systems

Now that we have established that fine control and management of solar thermal systems delivers better results and higher energy gain, how can we implement these?

In all cases, we would seek a solution that meets the following basic criteria:

• Efficient
• Affordable
• Robust

• Simple to install

Fortunately we now have access to a number of solutions that combine all the essential elements that we have mentioned so far, both on the input and delivery side of the system.

Stratified Charging Module SLM120XL

Marketed by SEG Solar Energy (Pty)Ltd, this streamlined solution is suitable for both new and retrofit installations. The SLM120XL unit is able to handle up to 120m2 of solar thermal collector area and incorporates a Resol differential solar controller and energy efficient variable speed pumps. (SEG Solar Energy, 2012)

Figure 4 Stratified charging module SLM120XL (SEG Solar Energy, 2012)
Figure 4 Stratified charging module SLM120XL (SEG Solar Energy, 2012)

In addition to the main function of the unit, the following information can be recorded and displayed:

• Flow rates and volumes
• Temperatures at all sensor positions • Heat quantity produced
• Error states

Fresh Water Module FWM225XL

When it comes to delivering uncontaminated, instantaneously heated water, the Fresh Water Module FWM225XL is the uncontested leader in the game. This patented product was the result of research and development performed by individuals who subsequently built and now operate the world’s largest manufacturer of flat plate solar collectors.

The FWM225XL module is designed to provide instantly heated hot water, while drawing the heated fluid from the buffers and simultaneously providing hot water recirculation in the building. As previously described, this component uses a plate heat exchanger and variable speed pumps to ensure the most efficient use of stored heat and consistent delivery of clean hot water, without the risk of bacterial contamination. (SEG Solar Energy, 2012)

With the help of the controller fitted to the unit, various data points can be read and displayed, such as:

• Temperature • Flow rate
• Run time
• Pressure

Figure 5 Fresh Water Module FWS225XL
Figure 5 Fresh Water Module FWS225XL

By combining the aforementioned devices with the appropriate storage vessels, the result

would look something similar to the representation in the diagram below:

Figure 6 Large scale SWH system with stratified charging and fresh water technology (SEG Solar Energy, 2012)
Figure 6 Large scale SWH system with stratified charging and fresh water technology (SEG Solar Energy, 2012)

Solar thermal systems are fast achieving their correct place in the South African HVAC industry – that of primary energy source – and no longer the ‘alternative’

The question is no longer “does solar work?” but rather “how can you maximise the delivery of solar energy” in your project today, and into the future.

Given the range of efficient solutions available, it is inconceivable that anyone would be hesitant to invest in the cleanest source of energy our species has ever seen. Solar simply works.

Source: Sustainable Energy Resource Handbook Volume 5


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How to encourage investment in Africa’s energy sector

The Guardian’s expert panel suggests how African governments can attract foreign investors to energy projects.

Prioritise the energy sector: Political will goes beyond campaign speeches and rhetoric, governments need to figure out how to fund this sector. They need to look at public private partnerships (PPP), accessing international capital and debt capital markets, foreign parternships such as Power Africa and also tapping into the diaspora. Jacqueline Musiitwa, founder, Hoja Law Group, Kigali, Rwanda @nubiancounsel

Approach it from all angles: There is no monopoly on the way to develop power infrastructure. It can vary from off-grid to mini-grids to on-grid, from small-scale to large-scale, from government-owned, to private-sector, to community-owned. Oliver Johnson, research fellow in sustainable energy, Stockholm Environment Institute, Nairobi, Kenya @SEIresearch

Don’t neglect existing power plants: It can cost less to upgrade and refurbish existing, inefficient and “dirty” power plants [than build new ones]. Showing you have the capacity to strengthen existing infrastructure will build investors’ confidence for bigger projects. Christina Ulardic, head of market development Africa Swiss Re Corporate Solutions Zurich, Switzerland, @SwissRe_CS

Support intra-regional trade: Currently trade between African countries is very low – an estimated 10-12% of the continent’s total trade. Over 80% of Africa’s exports are shipped overseas, mainly to the EU, China and the US. But we can’t discuss increasing intra-African trade before we discuss restrictive immigration policies. Christina Ulardic

Reduce the red tape at borders: For trade facilitation, governments need to update their valuation of goods so that essential items, such as generators, don’t get stuck in customs. Preclearance of goods is essential. Andrew Herscowitz, coordinator, President Obama’s Power Africa and Trade Africa initiatives, Power Africa, Washington DC, @aherscowitz

Tell more positive stories: African governments and media need to be more proactive in sharing their successes in energy and development. These need to be backed up with data on returns, challenges that are surmountable and also demonstrate impact for competitiveness and inclusive development. Jacqueline Musiitwa

Strengthen project management: Currently many African governments have poor project appraisal systems, a high degree of informality and an absence of effective management. They are also often subject to undue political influence for personal or political gain. Where this occurs there is a high risk for potential corruption and mismanagement and it will dissuade the private sector from investing in this market. John Hawkings, programme manager, Construction Transparency (Cost), London, UK, @costransparency

Ask potential investors what the obstacles are: We ask our partners what the critical barriers are that hinder your project or prevent your investment. We then try to work with the partner government to focus on resolving that particular issue. Once that barrier is broken down for one deal, it opens the door for others. Andrew Herscowitz

Encourage financing of PPP projects: Governments need to develop capacity, firstly to meet equity and debt financing needed by infrastructure projects, and secondly, to effectively manage the PPP process. The Henri Konan Bédié Bridge in Abidjan was the result of an excellent partnership between the state and private capital because every stakeholder took on and managed their share of risk. Professor John C. Anyanwu, lead research economist, African Development Bank, Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire @jcanyanwu

Tap into the diaspora: Not enough governments look at their own citizens and diaspora to fund large projects. Apart from offering incentives to come home and provide much needed skills, diaspora bonds – government bonds targeted at a country’s diaspora – are a useful instrument. John Anyanwu

Use early investments to illustrate that projects are viable: Better preparation is key for leveraging private capital as financiers are often reluctant to invest when projects are still in their high-risk initial stages. Lida Fitts, regional director (acting), Sub-Saharan Africa, U.S. Trade and Development Agency, Washington, DC, USA @ustda 

Don’t compromise on quality: The most qualified bidder must win the bid and price alone shouldn’t be selling point. As we are seeing with many of the new roads in the region, cheap is expensive in the long run because roads get potholes after a rain season or two. Jacqueline Musiitwa

Push for open contracting: This would help with transparency of the contracting process. If the public were privy to deal information, it would ensure greater accountability and push governments to ensure that winners of bids adhere to struck construction timelines. Jacqueline Musiitwa

Create cost-reflective tariffs: The tariff should compensate the investor for the cost of construction, maintenance and the cost of fuel. This is crucial to keep the investor on board for the whole of the project’s life. David Humphrey, global head power and infrastructure, Standard Bank, Johannesburg, South Africa

Demand change: Transparency on its own is insufficient. It really requires the local media and civil society to use that information to demand change such as in Ethiopia and MalawiJohn Hawkings

Read the full Q&A here.

Source: The Guardian


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Renewables Could Revolutionize African Energy

Africa is experiencing a revolution towards cleaner energy through renewables but the story has hardly been told to the world, says Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

Steiner, who had been advocating for renewable energy at the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Lima, said Africa is on the right path toward a low carbon footprint by tapping into its plentiful renewable resources – hydro, geothermal, solar and wind.

“There is a revolution going on in the continent of Africa and the world is not noticing it. You can go to Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Namibia, and Mozambique. I think we will see renewable energy being the answer to Africa’s energy problems in the next fifteen years,” Steiner said in an interview with IPS.

Sharing the example of the UNEP headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya, Steiner told IPS that the decision was taken that “if UNEP is going to be centred with its offices in the African continent on the Equator, there can be no reason why we are not using renewable energy. So we installed photovoltaic panels on our roof which we share with UN Habitat, 1200 people, and we produce 750,000 kilowatt hours of electricity every year, that is enough for the entire building to operate.”

He noted that although it will take UNEP between eight and 10 years to pay off the installation, UNEP will have over 13 years of electricity without paying monthly or annual power bills. “It is the best business proposition that a U.N. body has ever made in terms of paying for electricity for a building,” he said.

According to Steiner, the “revolution” is already happening in East Africa, especially in Kenya and Ethiopia which are both targeting renewable energy, especially geothermal energy.

“Kenya plans to triple its electricity generation up to about 6000 megawatts in the next five years. More than 90 percent of the planned power is to come from geothermal, solar and wind power,” he said.

Kenya currently runs a geothermal power development corporation which invites tenders from private investor bids and is establishing a wind power firm likely to be the largest in Africa with a capacity of 350 megawatts of power under a public-private partnership.

In Ethiopia, expansion of the Aluto-Langano geothermal power plant will increase geothermal generation capacity from the current 7 MW to 70 MW. The expansion project is being financed by the Ethiopian government (10 million dollars), a 12 million dollar grant from the Government of Japan, and a 13 million dollar loan from the World Bank.

Renewable energy has costs but also benefits

Phillip Hauser, Vice President of GDF Suez Energy Latin America, told IPS that geothermal power is a good option for countries in Africa with that potential, but it comes with risks.

“It is very site-dependent. There can be geothermal projects that are relatively cost efficient and there are others that are relatively expensive. It is a bit like the oil and gas industry. You have to find the resource and you have to develop the resource. Sometimes you might drill and you don’t find anything – that is lost investment,” Hauser told IPS.

Steiner admitted that like any other investment, renewable energy has some limitations, including the need for upfront initial capital and the cost of technology, but he said that countries with good renewable energy policies would attract the necessary private investments.

“We are moving in a direction where Africa will not have to live in a global fuel market in which one day you have to pay 120 dollars for a barrel of crude oil, then the next day you get it at 80 dollars and before you know it, it is doubled,” he said.

“So if you are in Africa and decide to exploit your wind, solar and geothermal resources, you will get yourself freedom from the global energy markets, and you will connect the majority of your people without waiting for thirty years until the power lines cross every corner of the country,” Steiner added.

A recent assessment by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) of Africa’s renewable energy future found that solar and wind power potential existed in at least 21 countries, and biomass power potential in at least 14 countries.

The agency, which supports countries in their transition to a sustainable energy future, has yet to provide a list of countries with geothermal power potential but almost all the countries around the Great Rift Valley in south-eastern Africa – Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania among others – have already identified geothermal sites, with Kenya being the first to use a geothermal site to add power to its grid.

IRENA Director-General Adnan Z. Amin told IPS that the agency’s studies shows that not only can renewable energy meet the world’s rising demand, but it can do so more cheaply, while contributing to limiting global warming to under 2 degrees Celsius – the widely-cited tipping point in the climate change debate.

He said the good news in Africa is that apart from the resources that exist, there is a growing body of knowledge across African expert institutions that would help the continent to exploit its virgin renewable energy potential.

What is needed now, he explained, is for countries in Africa to develop the economic case for those resources supported by targeted government policies to help developers and financiers get projects off the ground.

The IRENA assessment found that in 2010, African countries imported 18 billion dollars’ worth of oil – more than the entire amount they received in foreign aid – while oil subsidies in Africa cost an estimated 50 billion dollars every year.

New financing models for renewable energy

According to Amin, renewable energy technologies are now the most economical solution for off-grid and mini-grid electrification in remote areas, as well as for grid extension in some cases of centralized grid supply.

He argued that rapid technological progress, combined with falling costs, a better understanding of financial risk and a growing appreciation of wider benefits mean that renewable energy would increasingly be the solution to Africa’s energy problem.

In this context, Africa could take on new financing models that “de-risk” investments in order to lower the cost of capital, which has historically been a major barrier to investment in renewable energy, and one such model would include encouragement for green bonds.

Green bonds are the recent innovation for renewable energy investments,” said Amin. “Last year we reached about 14 billion dollars, this year there is an estimate of about 40 billion, and next year there is an estimate of about 100 billion dollars in green finance through green bonds. Why doesn’t Africa take advantage of those?” he asked.

During the conference in Lima, activist groups have been urging an end to dependence on fossil fuel- and nuclear-powered energy systems, calling for investment and policies geared toward building clean, sustainable, community-based energy solutions.

“We urgently need to decrease our energy consumption and push for a just transition to community-controlled renewable energy if we are to avoid devastating climate change,” said Susann Scherbarth, a climate justice and energy campaigner with Friends of the Earth Europe.

Godwin Ojo, Executive Director of Friends of the Earth Nigeria, told IPS that “we urgently need a transition to clean energy in developing countries and one of the best incentives is globally funded feed-in tariffs for renewable energy.”

He said policies that support feed-in tariffs and decentralized power sources should be embraced by both the most- and the least-developed nations.

Backed by a new discussion paper on a ‘global renewable energy support programme’ from the What Next Forum, activists called for decentralized energy systems – including small-scale wind, solar, biomass mini-grids communities that are not necessarily connected to a national electricity transmission grid.

Source: Oil