The South African National Energy Development Institute (Sanedi), which consolidates the South African National Energy Institute and the National Energy Efficiency Agency into a single organisation, was officially launched in Johannesburg on Thursday.
CE Kevin Nassiep said the new entity would seek to stimulate the research and development of indigenous green-energy innovations in partnership with science councils, universities and private industry.
Sanedi incorporates six State-backed programmes, including the South African Centre for Carbon Capture and Storage; Working for Energy; the Green Transport Programme; the Renewable Energy Centre of Research and Development; the Energy Efficiency Programme and the South African Smart Grid Initiative.
As a large greenhouse-gas emitter, but a country committed to diversifying its coal-heavy energy mix, South Africa "needed to become a pioneer" in green innovation and in deploying energy solutions in a way that supported economic development and job creation.
Energy Minister Dipuo Peters, who presided over the launch, said Sanedi would also be responsible for a long-term cleaner energy road map for the country.
She acknowledged criticism of South Africa's participation in carbon capture and storage (CCS) research, but said Sanedi's role could help safeguard the continued use of the country's abundant coal resources for the next "hundred years".
Geological work was under way to determine a site for a CCS test injection in South Africa by 2016, in an initiative that could cost up to R500-million.
But Sanedi was also expected to support renewable energy applied research, deliver a smart-grid vision during 2012, support the design of energy efficiency incentives and standards and advance green-transport innovations.