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
Partner: Local Government Association (SALGA); ESKOM, South African Renewable Energy Technology Centre (SARETEC); South African Renewable Energy Council (SAREC)
Lead Executing Agency: Department of Energy (DoE)
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 6,000 MW to private power companies. These are now successively being built and 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 focus is on improving the underlying conditions, putting existing strategies and support mechanisms into effect, and supporting pilot investments in technologies and approaches that have hitherto been under-utilised. The programme provides assistance primarily at the national level, but it also undertakes activities at the provincial level, especially in the Eastern Cape, and in municipalities.

The programme also provides technical solutions for the integration of renewable energy into the grid, both for large-scale wind and solar energy parks and for decentralised such as roof-top solar installations. It also promotes innovative approaches to enhance energy efficiency in municipalities.

The introduction and dissemination of these technologies requires appropriately qualified staff. For this reason, the programme supports South African institutions in the development of research and training programmes for renewable energy and energy efficiency.


The procurement scheme for renewable energies supported by the programme has so far resulted in the construction by private sector providers of power generation facilities with a combined capacity of over 6,000 MW. This is expected to rise to 17,800 MW by 2030. Of this new generating capacity, facilities producing more than 2,500 MW have already been added to the grid. Operating these facilities reduces South Africa’s CO2 emissions by more than seven million tonnes a year.

The South African Government has provided ZAR 105 million (approx. EUR 7 million) to fund the creation of the South African Renewable Energy Technology Centre (SARETEC). With the support of GIZ and other partner organisations, 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 energy efficiency measures. These measures include energy-efficient street lighting, energy management, and the retrofitting of buildings. The energy efficiency measures introduced with the support of the programme have reduced the country’s energy consumption by more than 190 million kilowatt hours per year.