CSIR, Nedbank join RES4Africa to further renewable energy development

28th January 2021 By: Donna Slater - Creamer Media Contributing Editor and Photographer

Pretoria-based research organisation the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and financial services provider Nedbank have become members of renewable energy lobby organisation the Renewable Energy Solutions for Africa (RES4Africa) Foundation.

Their membership was approved and made official by RES4Africa’s steering committee, following a solid working relationship established between RES4Africa, CSIR and Nedbank over the past few months.

According to RES4Africa, South Africa is the largest electricity market in Africa. However, despite the successful initiation of a renewable energy transition, South Africa’s power sector is currently experiencing several challenges.

The country’s economy is dependent on the extraction and export of coal, and its electricity demand has been weak and negatively influenced by frequent supply shortages, rising tariffs and lower economic growth.

Further, South Africa’s electricity generation mix is based on old coal-fired plants, which reduces the reliability of supply, while new generation capacity addition has been slow to materialise despite the approval of the 2019 Integrated Resource Plan that sets out a clear policy for the increased deployment of renewable energy sources.

However, RES4Africa notes that South Africa’s renewable resource wealth offers “tremendous opportunities” for clean and sustainable power generation, which is expected to play a key role in addressing the supply demand imbalance and supporting economic growth and prosperity in the region.

RES4Africa president Salvatore Bernabei says the challenges that South Africa’s power sector is experiencing offer the opportunity to scale up the deployment of renewable energy, which has the potential to ensure a more reliable and sustainable electricity service, at a fairer price.

“With its partners in South Africa, RES4Africa is carrying out a dedicated programme focused on the country’s energy transformation. We, therefore, gladly welcome CSIR and Nedbank as partners − a tangible result of the positive collaborations we’ve established over the past months.”

Through the dedicated programme, RES4Africa aims to offer its support in South Africa’s decarbonisation process, ensuring that the energy transition occurs in a just way, leaving no one behind.

CSIR energy centre head Clinton Carter-Brown says the CSIR’s energy centre has the vision “to provide the knowledge base for the South African energy transition and beyond”.

He adds that the CSIR looks forward to continuing to make its contribution in the transition to sustainable energy sources and to improve the access to clean and affordable energy and to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set by the United Nations (UN).

“Sub-Saharan Africa presents substantial opportunities for the development and deployment of renewable energy solutions. The integration of the work of the CSIR Energy Centre and RES4Africa Foundation is hoped to have lasting positive impact on energy access, sustainability and equality.”

Nedbank Corporate and Investment Banking energy finance head Amith Singh says that, as a bank committed to using its financial expertise to do good, Nedbank takes seriously its commitment to helping to shape a better world through the realisation of the UN SDGs, particularly ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and renewable energy for all.

“To this end, we are honoured to become a member of the renewable energy value chain that seeks to address energy challenges facing the continent, using our collective muscle, and membership of this august network positions the bank to contribute to this vital development.”