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African-made renewable energy products could benefit continent – SAIEE

7th March 2023

By: Donna Slater

Features Deputy Editor and Chief Photographer

     

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Although Africa is going through an “unavoidable” energy transition, South African Institute of Electrical Engineers president Prince Moyo believes the continent can “leapfrog” the trajectory of Western nations if it finds ways of making renewable energy components on the continent.

Speaking at an Energy Day event organised by power systems developer Hitachi Energy Southern Africa on March 7, he said the future of electricity development was heading away from industrial users, and towards being more energy efficient and renewable energy information systems instead.

Moyo said key lessons could be learnt from fellow Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (Brics) bloc countries, especially China and India, in terms of long-term planning. He explained that both China and India are rapidly developing because they prioritised long-term electricity generation and now have the generation base to power large industries.

“We have countries such as China and India, that are developing countries like us, that are undergoing their own major transitions,” said Moyo.

“For Africa, that transition comes with advantages. If we do this right, [it could add between] 8% to 10% growth in gross domestic product,” he stated.

Meanwhile, Hitachi Southern Africa sales and marketing head Stuart Michie said sustainability was important for the future of Earth, for its children and for the people that live on it.

“I believe we are in a very exciting time from [an] electrical industry [perspective, in terms of] how we can contribute towards sustainable solutions, and to bring a sustainable future to this Earth,” he said.

However, Michie said sustainability is not just about protecting the environment, but also ensuring that future generations have access to the resources that they need to thrive and survive.

“As part of that, we are endeavouring to develop new technologies and new solutions to help to bring in a sustainable world that we need for the future, towards a sustainable energy future,” he said.

As such, Michie said Hitachi was taking steps to decarbonise its technologies.

“We see that there are three fundamental technology areas that are in play, for us to be able to [transition] as a society. This is where we are [focussing] our efforts in terms of developing our technology and solutions to address this first area [of] sustainable products and solutions,” he noted.

The second aspect is power electronics and the benefit of generating and using electricity locally is becoming “ever more important”, both for the quality of power and sustainability of supply, said Michie.

He added that these two factors merge to form the third factor of digitalisation in the energy space.

“We need the same digitalisation revolution in the energy space that we have had in our personal lives when it comes to mobile telecommunications.

“We need them to make the grid work sustainably smartly, to be able to have the energy we need where we need it, and to manage the availability.

“Digitalisation is core to tying this together,” said Michie.

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online

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