Renewable energies and energy efficiency for a greener future

Programme description

Title: South African-German Energy Programme (SAGEN)
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: South Africa
Lead Executing Agency: Department of Energy (DoE)
Partners: South African Local Government Association (SALGA), ESKOM, South African Renewable Energy Technology Centre (SARETEC), South African Renewable Energy Council (SAREC)
Overall term: 2015 to 2017

South Africa. Wind turbines. © GIZ
Faced by an acute electricity shortage, South Africa has given high political priority to the expansion of renewable energies and the improvement of energy efficiency. This is reflected in dedicated strategies and support programmes. Since 2012, through a tendering procedure for renewable energies, the country has awarded generation projects with a combined capacity of more than 5,000 MW to private power companies. These are now successively being connected to the grid. At the same time, various incentive programmes for energy efficiency have been initiated, including a compensation scheme for saved energy and an energy efficiency programme for municipalities.

Despite these advances, further improvements are still needed in the overall conditions and implementing processes for public and private investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency. For example, in the field of renewable energies the potential of small decentralised generators is not being adequately exploited (e.g. photovoltaic roof-top installations and biogas plants), while for energy efficiency, the investment measures are progressing rather slowly and support funds available to potential private and municipal investors is not being claimed.

Conditions affecting public and private investment in renewable energies and energy efficiency have improved, as have the implementation processes.

The South African-German Energy Programme supports the Department of Energy and other implementing partners in improving strategies and programmes to enhance the uptake of renewable energies and energy efficiency measures. The strategic focus is on advice for existing support mechanisms and the implementation of pilot investments in areas that have hitherto been under-served. The programme will primarily intervene at the national level but will also undertake activities at the provincial and local levels of government, with a focus in the province of the Eastern Cape.

The programme provides technical solutions related to the grid integration of renewable energy projects and innovative approaches to enhanced energy efficiency in municipalities. Disseminating renewable energies and energy efficiency technologies requires staff qualified in new occupational areas. The programme therefore supports South African institutions in establishing relevant research and training facilities.

The procurement scheme for renewable energies supported by the programme has so far supported the installation by private sector suppliers of more than 5,200 megawatts (MW) in generating capacity. This is expected to rise to 17,800 MW by 2030. The facilities that have already gone into operation produce around 1,400 MW, which reduces South Africa’s CO2 emissions by more than 13 million tonnes every year, and brings down fuel costs by more than EUR 3.4 million.

The South African Government has provided ZAR 105 million to fund the creation of the South African Renewable Energy Technology Centre (SARETEC). GIZ and other partner organisations are supporting its establishment as a training centre in this field. SARETEC will make a major contribution to training the 5,000 qualified wind energy technicians who will be required by 2030.

Under a national support scheme for local governments, more than 30 municipalities have already introduced an energy management system for energy efficiency measures. Their measures include energy-efficient street lighting, energy management, heat and energy co-generation from sewage plants, and the retrofitting of buildings. More than 200 energy auditors for buildings have received training. Many different standards on energy efficiency in buildings have been established or improved.

Through the innovative energy efficiency measures introduced with support from the programme, the country saved more than 320 million kilowatt hours of energy in 2014.


Sascha Thielmann