The second annual Sustainable Energy Seminar has drawn to an end, with the full support from the Department of Energy who have committed to ensuring that sustainable and affordable energy becomes universally accessible.

Global leading researchers, sector leaders, government representatives and stakeholders of the energy sector all descended on Emperor’s Palace earlier this month and engaged and discussed pivotal energy related issues.

The keynote speaker was Ms Nelisiwe Magubane, Director General of the Department of Energy, South Africa. Magubane focused on the premise that, “the energy sector contributes significantly to adverse climate change and that this calls for countries, including our own, to re-look the energy mix going forward.

“Our energy sector accounts for approximately 60 percent of greenhouse gas emissions;  it is therefore imperative to introduce practices that will reduce the demand for energy as a matter of urgency”.

Magubane commented on the White Paper that was promulgated by Government in 1998 and stated, “this paper envisioned an electricity industry that would increase the opportunity to exploit cheaper and environmentally benign generation options; has the potential for downward pressure on electricity prices and has the potential to improve energy security”. Magubane also shared her belief that the Department of Energy, in line with the vision of the White Paper, presides over a sector with arguably one of the highest potentials to improve the lives of the people of South Africa.

As a result, Magubane emphasised that the Department of Energy is committed to ensuring that sustainable and affordable energy becomes universally accessible.

Magubane also explained what the Government was doing to move nearer to this onerous goal and commented on the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP 2010-2030) that was approved by cabinet in March 2010. This defined a tangible plan for embarking on a low carbon energy future that also secures the participation of Independent Power Producers (IPP).  Magubane noted that, “solar and wind generation constitutes over 16,000 megawatts of the portfolio up to 2030” and added that there has been an overwhelming response from IPP project developers.

The Sustainable Energy Seminar is seen as a build-up event to the United Nations Climate Change Conference (UNFCCC) COP 17, due to be held in Durban from 28 November to 9 December 2011.

Magubane commented on the importance of this conference as this is where the envisioned financial support of the international community will be discussed, and stressed that “as South Africa interacts with the world during this conference, it should be clear what we are doing on the ground, as actions speak louder than words.”

The Sustainable Energy seminar was attended by several other speakers and there were just over 40 participating organisations and exhibitors at the event, including Brand South Africa Partnership, Department of Energy, Department of Science and Technology, AVIS, Wesgro and Aurecon.

Lloyd Macfarlane, CEO of Alive2green, the main co-ordinators of the event, commented that, “the media plays a critical role in advancing sustainability and facilitating a move away from unsustainable practices by exposing what is bad and providing people with facts, information and knowledge about what is good. Alive2green strives to achieve this knowledge transfer in the energy sector and The Sustainable Energy Seminars are one of the many media platforms it uses”.

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