“Government subsidies should benefit South Africans”

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Renewables companies in South Africa are lobbying government, building links with business and labour organisations and informing people of the economic and environmental benefits of using green energy for electricity generation, but are they contributing to the country’s economic upliftment, asks Solairedirect Southern Africa managing director Ryan Hammond?

Investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency is important to reduce the negative economic, social and environmental impacts of energy production and consumption in South Africa, but while many companies are talking about investing, Solairedirect Southern Africa has put their money where their mouth is.

The government has stated that it wants to see a greater investment by the private sector in independent and, more specifically, renewable power producers, but to what extent will South Africa’s working class benefit from this?

It would a great pity if the REFIT program simply served to provide foreign companies with a new market for their products. I have no doubt our government has the intention to use this program to stimulate a local renewable industry, but if not managed correctly it may simply help create and/or protect manufacturing jobs in foreign countries, rather than stimulate their creation in South Africa.

If you take the example of how the Indian government is going about implementing renewable energy policy, they demand a minimum local content in order to qualify for incentives when it comes to the solar PV sector, thereby ensuring that incentives paid for by the Indian government, and indirectly by the Indian people, result in job creation for the Indian people. While I believe this stance is too extreme in South Africa, given the limited local production capacity, we would certainly like to see projects that use locally produced products given preference over those who import.

As a truly integrated solar power producer the Solairedirect Group took the bold decision to establish a state of the art manufacturing facility in Bellville, Cape Town, in 2008. Solairedirect Technologies produces high quality solar PV modules which it supplies to all the power generation subsidiaries within the Solairedirect Group. 

Not long after, in 2009, the group established Solairedirect Southern Africa, a power generation subsidiary that develops, builds, co-owns and operates large solar power installations. Using the proven business model of the French parent company, Solairedirect Southern Africa works with developers and investors to create a project offering which is unrivalled in terms of technical expertise, a proven track record and the highest possible percentage of local content.

We believe Solairedirect is uniquely positioned to play a leading role in the creation of a genuine local solar PV industry and we are committed to working with all government institutions to ensure this benefits all South Africans.
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