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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Green economy opens opportunities for local manufacturing

Growing the green economy in South Africa would open a number of opportunities in the manufacturing sector, particularly for solar water heaters (SWHs), Trade and Industry Minister Dr Rob Davies said on Tuesday.

Under the Green Economy Accord, launched last year with an aim of creating 300 000 jobs by 2020, government committed to the installation of one-million SWHs by 2014.

At end September, the number of installations stood at 220 000.

Davies said that programmes such as the New Build Regulations (NBR), which the South African Bureau of Standards developed, would boost the uptake of solar water heating systems. “We haven’t yet had the impact of the NBR on the procurement numbers of solar water heaters, but this will have an effect on the demand,” he said.

Speaking at the Department of Trade and Industry’s (DTI’s) conference on manufacturing opportunities, Davies added that the NBR would be enforced by the National Regulator of Compulsory Specifications and supported by the Department of Energy and the DTI.

“These regulations require that all new buildings in South Africa have solar water heaters, heat pumps or similar technology; seams, walls and windows would have to meet minimum requirements to prevent heat loss and reduce the use of heaters or air conditioners; and more energy efficient ventilation systems,” he said.

Davies pointed out that the department intended to beef up the enforcement of compulsory specifications, standards and quality assurance, which were increasingly important tools to defend consumers against shoddy, harmful goods and services, as well as defending producers in our country against unfair competition from imports.

“We are going to be less tolerant to instances of nonconformity in cases where this happens. For example, the vast majority of electric wiring that is put in buildings is not compliant with minimum compulsory standards.”

The Green Economy Accord encourages manufacturing of products that reduce carbon emissions in energy generation, farming activities to provide feedstock for biofuels, and environmental management.

Davies said that green energy generation targets in the Integrated Resource Plan gave the country volume and scale to support industrial activity.

“The new wave of industrial development that is happening around the world now is because of green technologies. South Africa needs to be part of this industrial development wave; and, if we are not, it would be just that much more difficult to sell to our public,” he said.

Davies added that South Africa had to make changes in its behaviour to reduce emissions and contribute less to carbon emissions. “We are facing the imperative of saving energy. We have lived in the past as though energy is like air, [providing] cheap energy for every project that is energy intensive coming to South Africa. Those days are long gone.

“Energy is no longer something we can afford to waste . . . This is not just an element of good citizenry, but also an element of competitiveness in the economy.”

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