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Creating jobs and saving the environment are all in a day's work for the IDC, which has approved R14.8-billion for green economy projects in the past three years.

Throughout the first 20 years of a democratic South Africa, the Industrial Development Corporation has been taking the lead in growing the country's industrial and manufacturing base, and in creating thousands of jobs.

And as green industries become more important across the globe, the corporation is having a significant impact in the sector as well. Its Green Industries Strategic Business Unit, established in April 2011, has approved R14.8-billion for green economy projects, through equity and debt finance. It looks for projects that will enhance the environment, cut carbon emissions and create jobs.

The investment has been in clean production, clean and renewable energy, energy efficiency, demand-side management interventions, emissions and pollution mitigation, waste reduction, and bio-fuels.

Projects financed include:

Renewable energy: the IDC participated in 22 successful projects in Rounds 1, 2 and 3 of the government's Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (with a combined capacity of 1 265 MW). This is as part of the Integrated Resource Plan. Its aim is the creation of wind power, PV and CSP projects until 2030. Projects include:

  • three solar photovoltaic (PV) power projects already in operation; five under construction (total 138 MW), and one 75MW to start construction in the third quarter of 2014;
  • six wind power projects (451 MW) under construction and two to start construction in the third quarter of 2014; two concentrated solar power (CSP) projects (150MW) under construction and two more (200MW) due to reach financial close by July 2014; and
  • one 10MW hydro power project under construction.
  • As an example of their impact, !Khi Solar One, the renewable energy project in Upington in the Northern Cape funded by the IDC, is alone creating about a thousand construction jobs, with 60 fulltime jobs expected once it starts operating.

Co-generation: the corporation financed South Africa Calcium Carbide to develop an 8MW co-generation facility. It is also involved in waste-to-electricity and -heat projects, as well as projects using organic waste to generate electricity for an automotive original equipment manufacturer and turning pig manure into biogas for electricity generation and providing heat (CHP).

Energy efficiency: the IDC supported Solar Academy of Sub-Saharan Africa and its partner company in its efforts to install and manufacture low pressure solar water heaters. The company has since installed 80 000 low pressure solar water heaters across the country. Other energy efficiency projects include using waste gas as a fuel for a 7.8MW combined heat and power plant to replace power from the grid, and a grid-connected rooftop PV system to generate 25% of the annual electricity requirements of a clothing factory.

Components: a key IDC focus is finance for making components locally for the. The IDC is financing a wind tower manufacturing company at the Coega Industrial Development Zone and a PV module manufacturing plant at the East London Industrial Development Zone.

These green projects not only contribute to sustainable development, but also create job opportunities. The wind tower manufacturing venture and the PV module manufacturing plant project – for which the IDC has provided R300-million – will create over 300 new permanent jobs.