Solar gaining momentum - World Bank

2011-08-25 12:12

Cape Town - While green technology depends on a county's resources to implement it, solar has been gaining momentum, the World Bank has said.

"It is very country specific - it depends on the availability of resources - first of all. There is a very strong emphasis on a number of technologies, but particularly solar technology is getting a lot of prominence," Gevorg Sargsyan programme co-ordinator for the World Bank Climate Technology Fund told News24.

He said that World Bank programmes supported the "transformation" of technology and skill in terms of the development of green energy projects.

"There are a number of programmes that would support solar and since the Climate Investment Fund is about transformation, it includes transformation in terms of technology and skill."

The World Bank has partnered with Morocco and Egypt on two projects that use hybrid concentrated solar power technology to reduce dependency on fossil fuels and cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Solar projects

"The idea is basically to scale up the generation of electricity using solar power," Sargsyan said.

The concentrated solar plan has resulted in a reduction of 20 000 tons of carbon dioxide in Morocco and 40 000 tons in Egypt according to World Bank statistics.

The bank has also funded South African solar projects.

"South Africa which is also getting funding from the Climate Technology Fund has more resources allocated for solar than for wind. But also, we need to take into account that solar technology is probably the most expensive so far, especially when it comes to grid connected electricity," said Sargsyan.

Eskom was recently awarded a $365m loan from the African Development Bank and it will be used to finance wind and solar projects slated to produce 100MW in the Western and Northern Cape province.

"We're quite keen on solar; the cost of the technology has to come down. In general we are keen on solar and keen to do more of it," Eskom spokesperson Hilary Joffe told News24.

He agreed with insiders, saying that electrification in rural areas could be boosted by small scale solar projects, as demonstrated by companies like Windwatts Turbines in SA and Tenesol which runs an electrification programme in Madagascar.


"It is different when we are talking about off-grid rural electrification. In those cases, you can get solar at parity or sometimes even cheaper than alternatives, which are kerosene, diesel, etc.

"Other technologies: Hydro, geothermal and all these technologies are being pursued and supported depending on the country context," he said.

Sargsyan said that it was not the World Bank's core business to fund research, but that it directed policies to facilitate the environment of technological development.

"The World Bank does not fund research per se; it is not our competitive advantage, so we would probably refer this to those who are into research: Academia, think tanks and research centres that would do it.

"What we would do is help with the policies that will ultimately create an enabling environment, which is the other part of the equation."

He also rejected the criticism from some quarters that the market for solar and wind was being flooded, saying that the more product would create competition, and that was good for the industry.

"I think if we get more supply of technology and more competition and more job creation that results from production, I think everyone is going to benefit."

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