From left: Dr Benedikt Schumacher, Les Holbrook and Gordon Thompson
The German government is moving away from coal and nuclear-based energy generation to new renewable sources. The current renewable make-up of the energy mix in 2011 is 20%, with future projections at 35% in 2020 up to a level of 80% by 2050.
EWE, one of Germany’s largest distribution grid operators, created a joint venture with the University of Oldenburg in 2007, for research and development. NEXT ENERGY was the resultant institute, autonomous from its parent institutions, but still drawing on them for support.
NEXT ENERGY focuses on three strategic areas:
• Photovoltaics for renewable energy;
• Efficiency of energy systems, particularly fuel cell-based combined heat and power; and
• Energy storage.
The non-profit joint venture is looking to partner with local companies under the twinning agreement between Lower Saxony and the Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality in two ways:
a) Research and development in the three fields mentioned above;
b) Bringing together all partners, gathering public support and creating joint ventures where pilot projects in the renewable field are installed in the metropolitan area.
The goals of the visit of NEXT ENERGY members were mainly exploratory and to collect information on what type of research and pilot projects could be established in the BCMM area.
The delegation visited many Buffalo City companies and identified a significant number of project options to build on.
These include technology and policy development with partners from the Eastern Cape.
The delegation then left for Pretoria where further talks took place with GIZ, the national organisation to support the German government in achieving its objectives in the field of international cooperation.
BCMM is currently arranging for a business delegation to travel to Oldenburg in Lower Saxony on 18 September 2012 to further relations and set up the projects that are currently being planned.
The delegation will also explore new opportunities for trade and investment. The visit will also concretise the partnership with the signing of a formal agreement between the two cities.
For more information, please contact the Border-Kei Chamber of Business on 043 743 8438.