THE PROPOSED SADC Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (SACREEE) should be launched by September 2014 under a revised roadmap agreed by SADC and development partners.
According to the revised roadmap, a preparatory phase runs from January to July 2014.
This would be followed by the first operational phase running for three years, which includes the official launch by September this year.
SADC is working closely with the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) and the Austrian Development Agency (ADA) to accelerate implementation within the revised timelines.
The proposed centre would, among other things, spearhead the promotion of renewable energy development in the region.
It is expected to contribute substantially to the development of thriving regional renewable energy and energy efficiency markets through knowledge sharing and technical advice in the areas of policy and regulation, technology cooperation, capacity development, as well as investment promotion.
It has been agreed that the centre should be an independent SADC institution that should be owned and supported by SADC member states for sustainability purposes.
Such a development would give the centre more authority to spearhead efforts to increase the uptake of renewable energy sources in the region.
Various cooperating partners such as UNIDO and ADA have pledged to provide financial support to the centre for the first three years.
After that, the centre should be self-sustaining. The location of the centre is yet to be decided although a number of SADC countries have expressed interest in hosting it.
Establishment of the SACREE is expected to see a gradual increase in the uptake of cleaner energy sources that could result in reduced carbon emissions in line with the global trends towards clean and alternative energy sources.
According to the African Development Bank (AfDB), the region has the potential to become a “gold mine” for renewable energy due to the abundant solar and wind resources that are now hugely sought after by international investors in their quest for clean energy.
For example, the overall hydropower potential in SADC countries is estimated at about 1,080 terawatt hours per year (TWh/year) but capacity being utilised at present is just under 31 TWh/year.
A terawatt is equal to one million megawatts. sardc.net