SOLTRAIN

Eighty experts and stakeholders from South and Southern Africa met on 17th May at the Hotel 224 in Pretoria to launch the Solar Thermal Technology Platform for South Africa and the Region.

Eighty experts and stakeholders from South and Southern Africa met on 17th May at the Hotel 224 in Pretoria to launch the Solar Thermal Technology Platform for South Africa and the Region.

The Platform discussed a vision and organisational structure for South Africa modelled on the successful European Solar Thermal Technology Platform co-chaired by Mr Werner Weiss of AEE INTEC, Austria. The main purpose of the Platform is to develop a Solar Thermal Technology Roadmap through the balanced synergies of policy, research, industry, finance, NGOs and relevant stakeholders.The Solar Thermal Technology Platform is part of the three year SOLTRAIN2 initiative sponsored by a grant of the Austrian Development Agency, implemented by AEE_INTEC and local partners: The sustainable Energy Society of Southern Africa (SESSA), the Centre for Renewable Energy Studies at the University of Stellenbosch (CRSES), Eduardo Mondlane University (UEM) of Mozambique, Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency Institute (REEEI) of Namibia and Domestic Solar Heating (DSH) of Zimbabwe.Other work packages of SOLTRAIN2 are awareness and information campaigns, advanced training courses, solar thermal flagship districts, showcasing various solar heating and cooling installations, assistance to local manufacturers, sponsored demonstration units at Centres of Competence, and a solar water heating test centre at the University of Stellenbosch."Solar thermal energy has a bright future in sunny Southern Africa," says SOLTRAIN coordinator Prof Dieter Holm. "Through SOLTRAIN2 advanced solar technologies and experience are being transferred from Austrian world leaders to Southern Africa. This will foster the transition from fossils to sustainable energies. The future solar thermal contribution may be as much as 50% of al heating demand below 250°C by 2030 or one square metre of solar water heater per person. It is generally not appreciated that almost two thirds of our final energy demand is in the form of heat."Werner Weiss concurs, adding: "I am very pleased with the large turn-out and the lively discussion during the launch. That bodes well for the future."A steering committee representing key stakeholders has been nominated by the launch meeting to work out the further details of the vision, mission and structure for the Roadmap. {jumi[*22]}