Obama’s new age and big investments in SA solar

Posted by Laura Grant on January 23, 2009
Posted in Business, Renewable energy


The ad above apparently appeared in an Australian newspaper this week.

The big news of this week is, of course, the inauguration of President Barack Obama and all the hope that brings for people concerned about the state of the planet: he has, after all, said that the US would at last join the world in trying to combat climate change and has plans to invest billions of dollars in alternative energy technologies to create jobs and help drag the US economy out of the doldrums. In his inauguration speech he said: “We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories.” Inspiring stuff. We wait in anticipation to see what develops.

Renewable energy seems to be getting a boost here in South Africa, too, with news this week of multimillion-rand investments in two solar water heating companies:

  • RISING IN THE EAST: Zwelakhe Sisulu, the son of Walter and Albertina Sisulu, has signed a R20-million deal with the Eastern Cape Development Corporation to finance a solar water heater manufacturing plant in East London, the Daily Dispatch Online reports. Sisulu’s company, Matla Solar Energy, has a partnership with Taiwanese company Min-Yang Funland, which will supply technology and bring management to South Africa as part of a skills transfer arrangement, the report says. Sisulu said the East London plant would be up and running within six months. The South African solar water heater market could be worth of billions of rands, Sisulu was quoted as saying, adding that already two municipalities in Gauteng Province (Johannesburg and Ekurhuleni) had put out tenders for a total of 500,000 solar water heaters a year. That is just a start because municipalities could earn carbon credits which they could sell to boost their revenue.
  • COMFORTING SUM: US investment company E+Co has invested R2,3-million in Johannesburg solar power company Home Comforts, Engingeering News reports. The loan will be used to help grow the company’s solar water heater division, which comprises 60 percent of its business, Home Comfort’s CEO Hendrik Roux was quoted as saying. The loan is E+CO’s seventh investment in the South African solar water heating business.


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