Various challenges in the South African energy sector must be addressed for wider socioeconomic advancement – for which the South African National Energy Development Institute (SANEDI) has developed a new strategic plan, positioning it to address key energy sector issues.
SANEDI interim CEO Lethabo Manamela explains that since SANEDI was established as an agency of the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy in 2011, it has been directing applied energy research and implementing energy efficiency measures in the country, working with local and international partners.
However, she notes that the energy landscape has greatly changed in the ten years since SANEDI’s inception and, therefore, the institute needs to adapt to these changes.
The first issue is climate change and decarbonisation, which Manamela says is a prominent concern in the energy landscape – one area still dominated by coal.
“In response, SANEDI aims to drive the accelerated adoption of clean energy and mitigation solutions towards meeting national and international commitments,” she says.
As such, SANEDI will focus on decarbonisation through technological programmes, compliance monitoring and awareness campaigns.
The second issue is service delivery within the municipal environment, which SANEDI will address through its Smart Grids programme, particularly as it relates to transport, energy, revenue and asset management.
“Through smart grids, e-mobility, revenue and asset management and energy efficiency initiatives, significant opportunities exist within the municipal environment to drive service delivery, enhance performance and create a lasting impact,” says Manamela.
The third issue is information, knowledge and technological convergence.
In this regard, she says, information is being generated at a rapid rate, where centralised sources of information can be used to derive real insights that can influence decision-making. “This improved decision-making has the power to contribute towards the socioeconomic development of the country.”
Also, SANEDI is setting out to improve information and knowledge management, to increase the national dataset on energy-related information. “Through this, we look forward to contributing to improving public sector policy making and private sector investment decisions,” says Manamela.
Beyond this, she says, SANEDI acknowledges that it must focus on programmes that create maximum impact, so that the institution can make the best use of its effort and resources.
“We believe our Smart Grid programme provides a significant area of opportunity, based on the current state of municipalities and the future trend towards increased urbanisation and smart cities,” says Manamela.
With its new strategic vision, she says, SANEDI is confident it will be able to continue making progress towards a more sustainable and efficient energy sector which is equipped to support South Africa’s economic and social development and improving the competitiveness of the country and the lives of its people.
While focus is placed on this programme, SANEDI remains dedicated to its national and international commitments towards decarbonisation, which is a global focus as the world aims to mitigate climate change.