Alan Winde, Minister of Economic Opportunities, today officially switched on the solar system at the V&A Waterfront.

Sustainable Power Solutions with its partners, SolarWorld Africa, SMA Solar Technology South Africa and Schletter South Africa, installed the rooftop solar system at the iconic property.

The 7500 square metre rooftop solar electricity system will power several key buildings, with an estimated total output of 1 640 000kWh of clean energy per year. At present, 900kW have been successfully connected to the grid on six roofs.

Please see below an extract of Minister Winde’s speech at the event:

It’s exciting to be able to join you today as we celebrate one of the private sector’s most significant investments into the green economy.

In the Western Cape, we have set ourselves the goal of becoming the greenest region in South Africa.

Securing reliable, affordable energy is a key focus area for the Western Cape Government.

In fact, it is one of our game-changers and is being driven by a special unit in the Premier’s office.

At municipal level, we’re looking at including solar PV as part of the energy mix.

We’re also making it easier to get renewable energy projects going.

The province has put in a significant effort to streamline the permitting process for the abnormal loads associated with these construction projects, as well as the training of local professionals for the operation and maintenance of renewable energy plants.

This is being conducted through the South African Renewable Energy Technology Centre at CPUT.

In a major development for renewable energy, the designation of the Atlantis Special Economic Zone (SEZ) will create an enabling environment, offering attractive incentives for businesses in this sector.

And the world has started paying attention to our progress.

I recently visited China for a trade mission with Premier Helen Zille. We met with a range of businesses, including those in the renewable sector. They told us that they had identified the Western Cape as a strategic market.

Through our partnership with Green Cape, we have already attracted significant foreign direct investment.

Jinko Solar, one of the Chinese companies we engaged with during our official visit, recently opened an R80 million photovoltaic manufacturing firm in Cape Town, which is set to create 250 jobs.

Spanish company Gestamp, located in the Atlantis Green Manufacturing Hub, invested R220m in the manufacture of wind turbine towers – as part of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP). This will create 200 permanent jobs in the area.

We can see that while businesses need energy to thrive, the energy sector itself is a job and revenue generator.

It is estimated that over 2000 jobs could be created in the local manufacturing and installation of solar PV componentry over the next three to five years.

A recent report by GreenCape found that during the first four bid windows of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme, over 2 000 MW were allocated to Solar PV.

To reach these job creation goals, we need companies who care about the impact of climate change.

The economic impact alone is severe.

Climate related events cost the Western Cape R3 billion between 2003 and 2008.

We know we need to take action and I’m encouraged by our partners in the private sector who have committed themselves to walking this road with us.

I want to commend the V&A Waterfront, Sustainable Power Solutions and SolarWorld Africa for this initiative, which is one of the largest-scale in the country.

You have helped us to cut down on the emissions driving climate change and you are setting an excellent example for other businesses. We now have one of South Africa’s biggest landmarks, an icon which has contributed over R200 million to the national economy, as an ambassador for smart energy practices.

You have helped us set the benchmark and it’s one I hope others in the private sector will follow.

While we know that operating this way is the right thing to do, we realise that more businesses are also choosing green energy because it makes business sense.

According to study released earlier this year, renewable energy saved the national economy more than R5.3 billion. (Source CSIR: January 2015)

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