The Southern African Development Community Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (SACREEE) was launched in Windhoek on Wednesday by the Minister of Mines and Energy, Tom Alweendo.
The centre was established with technical assistance of the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation and the financial assistance of the Austrian Development Agency.
Alweendo said SACREEE supports SADC’s industrialisation programme known as “Promoting Infrastructure Development and Youth Empowerment for Sustainable Development”.
In 2015, SADC ministers responsible for energy affairs approved the establishment of a SADC Subsidiary organisation to coordinate renewable energy and energy efficiency issues in the region and Namibia agreed to host the regional body.
“The establishment of SACREEE comes at an opportune time in the region where there are diminishing electricity generation capacities,” Alweendo said.
He said over-reliance on fossil fuels which are finite and traditional biomass has been the status quo for many of the SADC countries.
“Nuclear energy, despite its limited greenhouse effects is also not a viable solution for the region due to high capital costs and the waste disposal, which has to be carefully handled.”
The minister added that over-reliance on big dams also has its own problems due to the consistent drought and flooding that is affecting the generation of power in the region.
“The SADC’s renewable energy resources are huge and underutilised. I believe therefore that the establishment of SACREEE will unlock this potential by providing business focussed guidance on the regional market opportunities and risks,” he said.
Alweendo said Namibia has taken big strides in the growth of the renewable energy industry and the involvement of Independent Power Producers (IPPs) which has led to 18 IPPs signing Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) with NamPower to supply 170 MW of renewable energy generation projects by 2020.
As at September 2018, 11 renewable energy power plants had been commissioned, contributing 55 MW to the country’s electricity supply.
John Titus, Director of Energy at the Ministry of Mines and Energy, said the SACREEE Secretariat will be governed by a board of directors comprised of all the SADC Member States, represented at director of energy level and the main donor to SACREEE.
“It is envisaged that the SACREEE Secretariat will actively maintain links and pursue projects in the member States through nominated National Focal Institutions (NFIs),” Titus said.
SACREEE is expected to formulate a number of programmes and projects.
“These programmes and projects will be implemented in collaboration with partners, including the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the European Union (EU), Swedish International Cooperation and Development Agency (Sida) and the National Renewable Energy Agency (NREL). More projects are in the pipeline with other partners,” he said.
Titus said the centre has embarked on developing its Business Plan for 2019 to 2023.
“The sustainable energy field is not static hence; the Business Plan will no doubt be flexible and very dynamic to the dictates of the environment. Obviously, the Business Plan will need to develop best means and ways to address the plight of low access to clean and affordable energy, the issue of low participation of women in the energy sectors, information and knowledge management and contribution to SADC’s development agenda. We therefore request you to contribute by way of ideas to our Business Plan,” Titus said.
Managing Director of the Austrian Development Agency, Martin Ledolter, said over 50 percent of SADC’s population still has no access to electricity.
“Fortunately, there is huge untapped potential for renewable energies in the SADC Region and our efforts are especially important in those countries where the offer of sustainable energy services is still low and where we face an overdependence on fossil fuels and traditional biomass energy forms,” he said.