SANEDI Conference Sets Stage for Revolutionary Energy Solutions

SANEDI’s inaugural energy conference in Johannesburg focuses on science, technology, and innovation as keys to South Africa’s economic growth and energy solutions

by Adenike Adeodun

The first annual energy conference of the South African National Energy Development Institute (SANEDI), taking place this week in Johannesburg, has emerged as a crucial platform to discuss how science, technology, and innovation can advance South Africa’s economy and address its energy challenges. Dr Nobuhle Nkabane, the Deputy Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, stressed the importance of these elements for the country’s progress.

According to a report by Mining Weekly, Dr Zwanani Titus Mathe, CEO of SANEDI, emphasized the conference as the start of a long-term journey. He stressed the importance of forming partnerships with both local and international private and public entities to meet energy challenges. Additionally, he highlighted the innovative projects that SANEDI leads in the energy sector.

Dr Nkabane, focusing on the conference, underlined the need for tangible results, particularly in terms of progress assessment at the next annual event. A significant project introduced at the conference was the transformation of a traditional taxi into a 100% electric vehicle, set to traverse all provinces to showcase the viability and potential of electric transport.

SANEDI also displayed various projects, including the integration of renewable energy systems and hydrogen fuel cells in agriculture and training programs for young graduates from technical and vocational education and training colleges in business development and technology management.

The conference featured the installation of solar-powered science laboratories in schools, in collaboration with the Department of Science and Technology (DSI). These efforts demonstrate a broader commitment to sustainable energy solutions in education and community infrastructure.

The conference welcomed climate financing announcements, emphasizing South Africa’s right to decide independently on the use of these funds. Key priorities identified include improving energy efficiency, maintaining Eskom’s power plants, and expanding the energy grid.

The updated Independent Resource Plan, detailing South Africa’s energy strategy until 2030, has reached its final stages and is set for public review soon, as noted by Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa. This plan notably incorporates new elements like hydrogen.

The conference also highlighted the government and SANEDI’s initiatives in the hydrogen sector, discussing plans for hydrogen and renewable energy-powered charging stations in collaboration with Eskom and other stakeholders.

Dr Blade Nzimande, Minister of Higher Education, Science, and Innovation, focused on decarbonizing industries and advancing hydrogen technologies. He referred to South Africa’s national hydrogen strategy, emphasizing the development of new-energy vehicles and green hydrogen as a transport fuel.

Dr Nzimande presented several successful projects, including converting a diesel forklift to hydrogen power and enhancing battery-powered scooters with fuel cells, tripling their range. He also detailed the deployment of hydrogen fuel cell systems in various municipalities and schools, including a hospital in Pretoria as part of the COVID-19 response.

The DSI’s investment in the Hydrogen South Africa Infrastructure of Competence at North-West University is developing technologies for producing, storing, and distributing low-emission hydrogen, capitalizing on the country’s abundant platinum-group metals resources.

As Dr Nzimande underscored, these initiatives hold great potential for job creation, economic development, and boosting local manufacturing, positioning South Africa at the forefront of energy and economic transformation.

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