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SAREC: Point of contact for energy stakeholders

SAREC: Point of contact for energy stakeholders

May 27, 2014

With the launch of the South African Renewable Energy Council (SAREC) in Johannesburg, South Africa earlier this week, renewable energy industry associations now have an umbrella body that will act as a single point of contact for Government and stakeholders in the industry. Founder members include SAWEA (Wind Energy), SAPVIA (Solar Power) SASTELA (Solar thermal power) and SESSA (Sustainable Energy).

At the function held at SAREC’s offices, board member Davin Chown (SAPVIA) said the vision of a single voice for the renewable energy industry had developed in the years leading up to the negotiation of the Green Economy Accord. The technologies represented are installing nearly 4,000 MW of new electricity into the South African Grid and have provided thousands of South African home with solar water heating, heat exchangers and rooftop solar power.

Pancho Ndebele, also a Board member representing SASTELA, discussed the negotiations in NEDLAC and the collective decision made by the renewable energy industry: “Government wanted us to commit to the vision of a developmental state and to detail the contribution we would make to such a partnership approach. We committed to forming an umbrella body that would exist as a single point of contact for Government and other stakeholders to engage the broader renewable energy community.”

The thread was developed further by Johan van den Berg, SAREC Chair and board representative of SAWEA. He highlighted the significant progress made in setting up the Council, now fully functional in its new offices in Parkwood. “We are deeply indebted to GIZ for financial assistance and to Government officials for their support of our vision,” he said.

Carryn Bateman, who represents SESSA on the SAREC Board, said: “When the Sustainable Energy Association of Southern Africa was formed in 1974, the vision was to be inclusive of all renewable energy. Over time, renewable energy has grown so much that dedicated associations are now needed for the larger technologies. SAREC is the logical continuation of the vision that launched SESSA forty years ago.”

SAREC is presently filming a documentary on the socio-economic and community benefits of renewable energy. Projects procured during the first three rounds of Government’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme will invest over R11-billion into community development surrounding these plants over the next twenty years.

The association is also working with the National Treasury on determining how much money is saved by the renewable energy through offsetting of the so-called “peaker plants”, running at high capacity to alleviate the country’s acute shortage of electricity.

SAREC has presented to the parliamentary portfolio committee three times and foresees extensive further engagement with Government. “This is the start of a long journey,” Van den Berg said. “There is unprecedented opportunity to contribute to South Africa’s growth, and there are sure to be significant challenges. We look forward to witnessing progress in the years and decades to come.”

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