It is claimed a fund of more than R300m for renewable energy projects is unused at a time when the country is grappling with load shedding.
The unspent millions are stashed away in the Industrial Development Corporation coffers as part of the €40m (R559m) loan from the French Development Agency (AFD) being disbursed to successful applicants.
An official who declined to be named at the IDC said there were available funds for more renewable energy efficiency projects to be utilised.
The IDC is expecting about R150m of the money borrowed from its coffers to be paid back to the corporation by March. The money will be
used to fund new projects.
“So the money falls under the Green Energy Efficiency Fund (Geef), the AFD and money that the IDC received as a loan from the German Development Bank. The Geef is the facility that remains underspent We have about R300m,” the IDC official said.
IDC PRO Mandla Mpangase disputed the figure said to have been unspent.
“To date, the IDC has funded a number of businesses who have implemented green energy initiatives. About R40m is still available. We plan to raise more capital to fund viable energy efficiency projects that provide significant energy savings.”
He said they had spent R13.7bn funding 22 renewable projects.
“We have, in addition to concentrated solar power projects, supported a number of projects under government’s Small Renewable Energy Programme,” said Mpangase.
The Department of Energy’s Independent Power Producer Programme has resulted in a number of success stories of renewable energy projects which includes, among others, three wind farms in the Northern Cape and one in Jeffery’s Bay in the Western Cape.
A number of renewable energy projects, which includes solar, wind and hydro power, are currently under way and are expected to help alleviate the country’s power problems over the next years.
While the focus is on smallscale renewable energy projects, the IDC also funds largescale projects but finances are capped at R50m.
“We have seen and funded plenty projects in the R10m-R20m region,” Mpangase said.
Green energy activists however feel that more coud be done to invest in renewable energy as an alternative.
“We are disappointed that Eskom and the Department of Energy continues to refuse to use the crisis as an opportunity to accelerate the renewable energy programme in South Africa. Renewable energy projects are coming online faster and, in some cases, cheaper than Eskom’s perpetually delayed coal plants to allow net metering and to expand the solar water heating programme,” Earthlife Africa’s Makoma Lekalakala said.
Environmentalists want an energy revolution that would speed up projects to attain at least 49% renewable energy by 2030.