The South African-German Energy Partnership hosted a dialogue with renewable energy associations from South Africa and Germany in Johannesburg in September 2023, to create a platform for strategic cooperation, ongoing work and opportunities, collaboration efforts, and for possible strategic partnership agreement(s), which could be structured and pursued.
The wind, solar and energy storage clusters were represented at the dialogue by Stiftung Offshore Wind Energy [Foundation for Offshore Wind Energy], Bundesverband WindEnergie (BWE) [Federal Association for Wind Energy], Bundesverband Solarwirtschaft (BSW) [Federal Association for Solar Power] and Bundesverband Energiespeicher (BVES) [Federal Association for Energy Storage] from the German side and South African Wind Energy Association (SAWEA), South African Photovoltaic Industry Association (SAPVIA) and South African Energy Storage Association (SAESA) from the South African side.
The associations shared their backgrounds covering their fields of operation; strategic priorities; and strengths, capacity and challenges. The associations showed that they had acquired in-depth experience in influencing and shaping policy reform. Extensive research and market intelligence on various products in pursuit of innovative solutions, in both South Africa and Germany, had benefitted their members.
In addition, the associations have been providing information and knowledge exchange, such as seminars and conferences to their members, as key benefits of membership.
Both countries face similar challenges of positioning themselves in their operating space and influencing their respective industries. The German based associations have been in existence longer than their counterparts in South Africa. Consequently, policy reform is more advanced in Germany than in South Africa, and this has impacted on market certainty.
In South Africa, the market is growing substantially, but it is mostly driven by private investment without clear policy guidelines. Certainty in policy direction and legislation are factors that investors consider. Several deregulation, public finance and procurement initiatives in response to the electricity crisis in South Africa are charting new direction in the energy space. The environment conditions and access to grid infrastructure are critical for operating on- and offshore wind energy.
Resource constraints in the import of items such as cables and raw materials, and price volatility were noted as issues. Value chains need to be strengthened to create more opportunities for local participation and beneficiation. In both countries there is a further need for specialised skills related to the industries in which the associations operate. Networking, collaboration and information exchange were identified as crucial elements where lessons learned could be shared from more mature markets to those in the learning phase.