Wheels would soon start moving towards the establishment of the South African National Energy Development Institute (Sanedi), as promulgated by the National Energy Act, which was gazetted in November.
“Our immediate objective is to establish when and how Sanedi will be operationalised this year, because we have decisions to make as to how this entity will be funded, and where it is going to be located,” said South African National Energy Research Institute (Saneri) CEO Kadri Nassiep, in an interview.
Department of Minerals and Energy chief director of energy planning Tshilidzi Ramuedzisi told Engineering News Online that the establishment of Sanedi was still in the initial planning stages, and discussions regarding business plans, funding and formal structures would start imminently.
The plan was to have Sanedi operational in the coming financial year, which starts in March.
Sanedi would essentially be the assimilation of the existing energy research organisations of Saneri, and the National Energy Efficiency Agency (NEEA).
It would be mandated to develop renewable energy resources, energy efficiency programmes, energy research, security of supply, and all energy infrastructure development co-ordination. The organisation would be directed by the Minister of Minerals and Energy, as well as the Minister of Science and Technology, with regard to research in the field of energy technology.
“One thing is clear, that Saneri and the NEEA will work together. So we retain a lot of the focus and the structure in this new entity. We don’t anticipate much change in the NEEA, and we will still work closely with the likes of Eskom and the regulator, in terms of supporting energy efficiency,” added Nasiep.
He said that Sanedi hoped to play a key role in the transport energy sector, with regard to energy efficiency.
Already, on the supply side, Saneri was looking at green transport options for 2010, with various new energy efficient propulsion systems for mass transport schemes, such as compressed natural gas, liquid petroleum gas (LPG), electric motors, hybrid vehicles, and biofuels.
“On the energy efficiency side, we can look at the individual side, or we can look at schemes that cities can put in place to limit the movement of vehicles in and around the city as well. This way you can tackle both supply and demand,” stated Nasiep.
Saneri was also involved in exciting projects on the low-income scale, and was investigating sustainable housing.
“The sustainable housing initiative is one where Saneri is working with the Development Bank of South Africa, and we are looking at actually raising funding for solar water heaters (SWHs), as well as installation for an RDP-style home.”
The entities were considering various options, including the possible sale of hot water from SWHs, through municipalities or utilities, rather than expecting individuals to pay for the expensive solar geyser and installation.
Interesting prospects regarding the manufacture of energy efficient modular homes were also being investigated, where the possibility of providing a home, which could operate independently from the electricity grid was under scrutiny.
These energy efficient modular homes starting from 55 m2 could be fully plumbed and wired, and constructed in a factory and then transported.
“The house as it is would come with a gas hob anyway, but if we can provide them with a solar water heater, and a photovoltaic panel for lighting, with the gas for cooking to come from a biogas digester, then they are off the grid. And if we can do all of that in a factory, we are not only building skills in the factory, we are employing people and supplying for energy and housing needs entirely. So it is a fairly big and ambitious project,” enthused Nasiep.
Saneri is also looking at the conversion of cars to run off LPG, which is cheaper, and more efficient as a motorist gets more mileage with fewer emissions.
The research institute is running a pilot project in Cape Town where taxis have been converted to run off LPG.
The research would also look at facilities that would be able to supply the LPG for the vehicles, as some modification to filling points would be required.
Edited by: Mariaan Webb
Creamer Media Senior Researcher and Deputy Editor Online
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