South Africa’s State-owned Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) plans to inject R11,7-billion into ‘green’ industries over the next five years as part of a larger R100-billion disbursement plan between 2010 and 2015.
CEO Geoffrey Qhena indicates that the “green economy” has emerged as a primary focus for the development finance institution (DFI), owing to its potential to create jobs and lower the carbon intensity of the South African economy.
The IDC is already studying 11 wind-power projects, seven solar ventures (photovoltaic and concentrating solar power), two biomass projects and a hydropower project.
During its financial year ended March 31, 2010, the IDC also committed R924-million to the Lake Turkana wind project, in Kenya, while another R33-million was approved for a feasibility study into a 450-MW solar park in the Northern Cape, which could embrace both solar thermal and photovoltaic projects.
But Qhena stresses that the DFI is adopting an holistic approach to green industries and that it will seek to participate in the development both of green infrastructure an the manufacture of green technologies and/or components. For instance, it is probing the manufacture of solar-industry components, such as the production of poly-silicon and photovoltaic cells.
The IDC is also funding the continued development of the Joule electric vehicle and has initiated a prefeasibility study to determine the viability of manufacturing large-cell lithium-ion batteries in South Africa.
Another study is also being undertaken into the establishment of a fluorescent light bulb recycling plant, while R16,5-million has been approved for a company specialising on the production of organic composted products.
Qhena reports that the IDC is also participating in a project to recycle contaminated mine water, or acid mine drainage.
This green industry thrust is aligned to the Department of Trade and Industry’s industrial policy action plan, or Ipap2, and the emerging ‘New Growth Path’, which is being driven by Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel.
Patel has estimated that some 300 000 jobs could be created in South Africa’s renewable energy sector over the next ten years, of which 20 000 is achievable in the next two years.