USTDA Expands Commitment to Renewable Energy Development in South Africa

Friday, June 6, 2014

(USTDA)  JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA– Today, U.S. Trade and Development Agency Director Leocadia I. Zak signed grants for three renewable energy projects in South Africa.

"USTDA remains committed to fostering sustainable economic growth in South Africa," said Director Zak. "These activities support South Africa's goal of meeting energy demands by increasing generation capacity from renewable energy sources."

This morning, Director Zak hosted a roundtable in Johannesburg for public and private sector stakeholders from the U.S. and South African solar power sectors. The event provided attendees the opportunity to share lessons learned from past efforts and to discuss both current challenges and future opportunities. During the roundtable, Director Zak signed a grant agreement with Ample Solar for a project that will evaluate the use of Areva Solar's (Mountain View, CA) innovative technology at two concentrated solar power plants that Ample Solar is planning to build in the Northern Cape.

Director Zak later signed a grant to Basil Read Energy to assist their efforts to develop a run-of-river hydropower plant that would supply electricity for more than 75,000 households. The project, which Basil Read plans to submit as part of its bid in an upcoming round of South Africa's Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Program, will help diversify the country's energy mix and reduce environmental emissions.

USTDA also finalized a grant agreement with Plessey, a leading South African telecommunications solutions provider, to fund a pilot project on U.S. fuel cell technology applications for use by the telecom industry in South Africa. The project will enable Oorja Protonics (Fremont, CA) to demonstrate the usage of methanol-powered fuel cells as the primary or secondary power supply at remote telecom tower sites that are currently powered by diesel fuel generators. The use of these cost-effective fuel cells, which are 40% more energy efficient than diesel generation, would significantly reduce carbon dioxide and other noxious emissions.

Each of these projects is being funded under the U.S.-Africa Clean Energy Finance Initiative, an innovative U.S. government effort to catalyze private sector investment for clean energy projects in sub-Saharan Africa by supporting early-stage project development.