Minerals and energy minister punts clean energy

Posted by Laura Grant on March 6, 2009
Posted in Renewable energy

A wind turbine crop circle in the United States by BG Johnson under a Creative Commons licence

The department of minerals and energy is developing a climate change strategy for the energy sector, which should be completed by the end of September, Bulyelwa Sonjica, the minister of minerals and energy said this week at the Climate Change Summit 2009 in Midrand.

The strategy will assess climate change mitigation measures for the energy sector and consider technological opportunities in energy efficiency, renewable energy and carbon capture and storage.

Minister Sonjica said that energy and climate change are “clearly intimately connected” and that mitigation offered opportunities for small and medium-sized businesses in the renewable energy and energy efficiency sectors and that climate change policies must assist in promoting these opportunities.

The renewable energy feed-in tarrif (Refit), which is reportedly due to be released at the end of this month (March), will be an important stimulus for the renewable energy industry in South Africa.

She said the department is continuing with pilot projects around wind and solar which it hopes to “upscale at the right time”, adding that “clearly more needs to be done to support both public and private investment in renewable energy technologies.”

She said that these technologies offer a number of economic opportunities and job creation benefits that our society can capitalise on.

Additional funding could come from a 2c/kWh levy on electricity from non-renewable sources that is due to be implemented this year. Deputy director-general of minerals and energy Nelisiwe Magubane was reported by Reuters as saying: “We now charge a carbon tax on electricity … we will use that to go back to the Treasury to either introduce tax breaks for people who want to invest in renewables or increase our subsidies, now at only R20-million.”

At a side event earlier in the day the minister urged South African companies to make use of the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism. She said the CDM was an international tool to unlock carbon assets and very few South African companies are tapping into it.

South Africa is lagging behind other developing countries, such as India, China and Brazil with only 14 CDM projects. But it does have more than any ther country in Africa and there are reportedly another 12 local projects at the validation stage.

Some CDM projects are “low-hanging fruit that could easily be harvested”, said Ms Sonjica, adding that her department has put initiatives in place to help companies access CDM funding.


Leave a Reply