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Green energy conference

South African companies have been encouraged to turn to the Industrial Development Corporation's Green Energy Efficiency Fund (GEEF) to contribute towards creating a greener economy.

Speaking at a conference organised by the IDC in partnership with the German Development Bank (KfW) on Thursday, 25 October, the head of the corporation's green industries strategic business unit, Rentia van Tonder, said companies should take advantage of the fund earmarked for investments in green industries and initiatives.

"The fund has been well-subscribed to but we feel that not enough projects have benefited as yet. This conference will try to facilitate the benefits of the fund to those who may be interested to invest in energy efficiency," she said.

Established in October 2011, the fund is open to South Africa registered companies in the private sector that are implementing an energy efficiency project, which will provide significant energy and/or emissions savings. It is also open to local projects that offset grid-connected electricity through use of renewable energy.

Companies interested in accessing GEEF can apply online.

Jose Luis Bobes, the team leader of green energy efficiency financing at the IDC, said the main objective of the conference, which was attended by representatives of KfW and Eskom, the state electricity generator; GEEF beneficiaries; and energy efficiency advisers and consultants, was "to share experiences, learn from each other and provide feedback".

The main targets of the conference were energy services companies and their clients. "[Through GEEF] the IDC created an enabling environment by securing cheaper funding with long tenure to act as a catalyst in the energy efficiency markets."

Bobes had a number of success stories to tell. So far, the corporation had approved 10 GEEF loans, accounting for about 325 905 CO₂ tonnes avoided a year. Successful projects funded through GEEF included:

  • The installation of a solar photovoltaic system at textile company Impahla Clothing, leading to a 25 percent reduction in grid electricity consumption;
  • The installation of solar water heaters for commercial and residential clients in Gauteng by energy efficiency and renewable energy company Solar Network, leading to a 40 percent reduction in grid electricity consumption; and,
  • The installation of a biogas cogeneration system to produce energy from waste for electricity, heating and cooling at an abattoir in Jan Kempdorp, Northern Cape.

He encouraged companies in the biogas, cogeneration, solar water heater, standard product (products designed to act as replacements for less energy efficient technologies) and standard offer (installation of energy efficient lighting technologies) sectors to also take advantage of IDC funding.

The KfW's principal project manager for sub-Sahara Africa, Wolfgang Ryll, gave an overview of the development bank's activities around the globe. It was based in Frankfurt, Germany, and had "a strong commitment in energy efficiency". He said the bank was the third largest in Germany and promoted environmental and climate protection, including in sub-Saharan Africa.

Over the last five years, the KfW had invested €5,2-billion (about R59-billion)in the energy sector, providing loans to companies investing in green technologies (mainly renewable energy efficiency measures) and development loans to countries like South Africa. "We ensure that funded projects contribute to energy efficiency," said Ryll.

Mentioning a few projects that it had funded, Ryll said the bank had invested in green technologies in India and Serbia by financing new energy efficiency housing projects, refurbishment of private housing and small, medium and micro enterprises support to buying new machinery. South Africa and Germany had intensified their co-operation in the field of climate change and energy through the South African-German Financial Co-operation agreement.

Andrew Etzinger, the senior general manager of integrated demand management (IDM) at Eskom, spoke about the parastatal's experiences in its efforts to reduce electricity consumption through its Energy Efficiency and Demand-Side Management Funding Programme. Through this programme, Eskom promoted and implemented energy-efficient technologies, processes and behaviours among its customers.

Etzinger said that since the launch of IDM in 2003, Eskom had managed to save up to 3 000MW of cumulative demand of electricity. "The industry and mining sectors have saved 596MW since the inception of IDM – 19 percent of total savings achieved by IDM," he said.

In the last 18 months, Eskom had introduced more flexible funding options into IDM, encouraging more, smaller projects to take advantage of the programme. "Over the next three years, Eskom plans to fund 236 energy saving projects around the country, a demand saving of 345MW," Etzinger said.

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