SAIREC 2015: RE-energising Africa

Delegates Declare to Upscale and Mainstream Renewables to Achieve a Global Energy Transition

South Africa’s Department of Energy hosted the South African International Renewable Energy Conference (SAIREC) 2015 in conjunction with the South African National Energy Development Institute (SANEDI) and the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21) with support from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

SAIREC was the first international conference dedicated to renewable energy following the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in September 2015 by the UN-General Assembly, which, among the 17 global sustainable development goals (SDGs), also includes a dedicated goal on sustainable energy for all (SDG 7).

The first day of the conference featured a number of interesting side events, including on Renewables and the Carbon Tax, the IRENA Virtual Sustainable Energy Marketplace in Africa, South Africa’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producers Procurement Programme (REIPPP), the Biomass Action Plan to increase the utilisation of biomass for electricity generation, the potentials for rooftop solar PV to provide base load electricity, the potentials for small-hydro electricity generation, rural and off-grid electrification, the Africa Clean Energy Corridor (ACEC), and the SANEDI Investment Forum. Read the SAIREC News Bulletin for further information.

The opening of the conference highlighted the phenomenal growth in the renewable energy sector for the last five years, which has led to first signs of a decoupling of global economic growth from GHG emissions. The key role of renewables in achieving the newly adopted SDG 7 „To ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all“ was recognised as well.

The high-level panels on the second day addressed Sustainable Energy for All and the Transitioning to Renewables, highlighting the need for holistic approaches, enabling policy and regulatory frameworks and building on successful experiences, such as the REIPPP. A number of parallel sessions looked in detail at the challenges and opportunities for renewables, like the regional interconnectivity initiative, enabling regulatory frameworks, the linkages between RE and socio-economic development, the road to COP 21 in Paris in December this year, energy access, finance mechanisms and skills development through the South Africa Renewable Energy Training Center (SARETEC) and future additional centres. Find more information here.

Moreover, the SADC Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Status Report was launched at a REN21/UNIDO side event, which showcased the achievements of regional cooperation in promoting market-based uptake of renewable energy and energy efficient technologies and services. The report is available here.

At the end of the conference, the 3600 delegates from 82 countries adopted a declaration expressing their conviction „that the increased deployment of renewable energy will have a direct impact on improved global energy access, improved energy security, on mitigating greenhouse gas emissions and on climate change and sustainable economic development.

The declaration states that “As of today 2.9 billion people lack access to clean forms of cooking which needs to be addressed in order to achieve the universal access target. We note that to make universal access a reality by 2030, 1.3 billion people, out of which 621 million live in the sub-Saharan region, should be provided access to electricity. The scale of the challenge requires that all approaches, including grid and off-grid solutions are taken into account and adopted based on an efficiency principle. Rural and urban demands can best be met with a diverse technology mix that takes full advantage of sub-Saharan Africa’s exceptional and sustainable solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, and hydropower resources.”

Participants of the SAIREC 2015 highlighted the following key elements to enhance the energy transition with renewables in Africa and globally: Promoting transparent and effective procurement processes; prioritising renewable energy globally; promoting skills transfer and development; securing financial resources; conducting research and development; prioritising regulatory frameworks, localising supply chains and local investment; emphasising integrated planning; regionalising trade and energy resource development; managing the Programmes for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA); embarking on Clean Energy Corridor initiatives and focusing on the African Renewable Energy Initiative (AREI); and finally regional and international cooperation.

Countries will be emphasising the growing role of renewables in their national efforts to reduce emissions at the 21st Conference of the Parties under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 21) in Paris in December.

For further information please visit the conference website.

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