WWF-SA together with GreenCape and the Centre for Renewable and Sustainable Energy Studies (CRSES) at Stellenbosch University hosted a very successful workshop aimed at gaining a better understanding of the potential of solar energy in the agri-processing industry. The workshop was held at the STAIS Wallenberg Centre in Stellenbosch in mid-November.
Presenters covered a broad range of topics, including an overview of the potential of solar thermal in the sector, the demonstrated the benefits using findings extrapolated from existing installations, lessons from previous and current tender processes and training support for installers.
The subject matter provided a compelling case for the increased uptake of the technology and it was clear is that the technology holds enormous potential to address both energy needs, whilst also opening up local manufacturing opportunities.
The workshop was well attended by industry representatives, financial institutions, key government departments and system installers.
In the discussion session, facilitated by Prof Wikus van Niekerk, Director of CRSES, participants provided input on what they saw as critical success factors to ensure higher uptake of solar thermal technology. These included the need for pre-feasibility studies to demonstrate the business case to agri-processors, addressing the issue of outstanding system component certification and difficulties in getting loan finance from financial institutions.
Suggestions on how the organisers could possibly support the increased uptake included assisting role players to collaboratively develop a template for submission to financial institutions to ease present difficulties in obtaining loan finance, and secondly, the development of more specific in-depth analysis of the potential in specific agricultural sectors.