South Africa has officially joined the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena), after President Jacob Zuma authorised Energy Minister Dipuo Peters to sign statutes to join the organisation and to participate as a full member in all its deliberations.
Previously, South Africa was an observer country to the agency, and did not have full membership of this body, which was established in January 2009 and would be headquartered in Abu Dhabi.
Peters attended the third session of the preparatory commission in Abu Dhabi on January 17, where decisions were made on the 2010 work programme and budget of Irena, as well as on the interim financials and staff regulations and rules.
“This commission is important as it acts as the main decision-making body of the organisation until the entry into force of the statute after the 25 required ratifications have been realised. This is a pioneer development that will enable us to work with other countries to accelerate the introduction of renewable energy and to confront our vexing energy challenges,” said Peters.
Department of Energy spokesperson Bheki Khumalo explained that the Minister had attended the preparatory conference, which was a steering committee of countries that are key in the introduction of renewable energy in the world. These member countries would share renewable-energy technology concepts and know-how, and promote the greater use of renewable energy.
South Africa has set a target of producing 10 000 GWh of renewable energy by 2013, and has also established a renewable-energy feed-in tariff, although this is yet to be implemented.
The nation’s solar water heat-ing strategy, with a target of rolling out one-million solar water heaters, is also being final- ised.
Renewable energy is said to contribute 18% of global energy consumption. This number is expected to increase as improved technologies are being continuously developed, and the necessary legal, economic, and social frameworks are being put in place and investment increased.
Irena is said to be facilitating this change and, as a member of Irena, South Africa will benefit from its membership through access to information, technology and capacity building in the field of renewable energy.
The agency is comprised of stakeholders from the energy industry, academia, institutions and civil society.