Renewable Energy in South Africa’s future under serious threat.

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The recent emergence and management of the “Greening Robben Island” project by state owned Central Energy Fund(CEF) and South Africa’s National Energy Research Institute(SANERI), contains serious misgivings on the credibility of future projects in the quest on how South Africa could best utilise its natural resources to produce clean and renewable energy.

A copy of an advert (media unknown) surfaced on 18th September 2010 advertising an invitation on behalf of  CEF and Robben Island Museum to submit  proposals/tenders (deadline 8th October) for supply, installation and commissioning of a 400kW collective solar plant for Robben Island.
A briefing meeting being advertised for the 29th September . Non refundable deposit of R3000.00 would secure documents to be forwarded to interested bidders.
Listing of the tender appeared on the CEF website on 20th September.
The briefing meeting attended by SAAEA resulted in a unanimous decision by attendees to extend the deadline to 18th November 2010 and an undertaking by Mr. Derek Batte (Senior manager, Working for Energy Programme, Saneri) to advise all attendees of confirmation of the deadline and a date for a site meeting to be conducted on Robben Island.
A telephonic request by SAAEA (7th October) provided an email advice that the deadline was extended to 29th October 2010, with no advice as to site inspection details.

On the 18th October, Mr. Nassiep (SANERI) was advised by Ms. Thandi Modise, Chairperson Robben Island Museum Council (RIM) that no mandate/agreement existed between them for this project.

Our enquiries to Mr. Batte solicited a reply from Mr. Nassiep, CEO of Saneri, with a reponse from Mr Batte being that issues of this nature should not be aired on a public forum, in view of his busy schedule he was also unable to meet and discuss the issue with us prior to the 29th Oct deadline for tenders.
Subsequent invitations for comment have been absent.

We see no reason why Department of Energy(DOE) or Public Works Department(PWD) would not willingly allow publication of their support for this project.

With the pending IRP2010 negotiations and Upington Solar Investors Conference, in the unfortunate event of a mandate not being secured, the South African renewable energy industry will suffer serious local and international credibility issues and embarrassment.

In the absence of this project not advertised or promoted sufficiently, no clear mandate being available and no Environmental Impact Assessment initiated, we urgently call on the relevant authorities and Energy Minister Dipuo Peters in particular, to have this project investigated.

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