According to the International Energy Agency, global CO2 emissions declined by 5.8% in 2020 – the largest ever single-year decline and almost five times greater than the 2009 decline that followed the Global Financial Crisis. CO2 emissions fell further than energy demand in 2020 owing to the pandemic reducing demand for oil and coal harder than other energy sources while renewables increased. 

Despite the decline in 2020, global energy-related CO2 emissions remained at 31.5 Gt, which contributed to CO2 reaching its highest-ever average annual concentration in the atmosphere of 412.5 parts per million in 2020 – around 50% higher than when the industrial revolution began. It’s time to turn the page on non-renewable sources.

Clean energy and clean technologies are increasingly being looked at globally and locally. 

We saw 254MW of clean energy added to South Africa last month through UK funding. Black industrialists should always be on the lookout as to where growth opportunities in the local and global communities are, especially where there’s value creation that can take place through sustainable development. H1 Holdings, a majority black-owned and managed developer of renewable energy projects, is a great example of a company that grabbed one of the opportunities that was available. UK Climate Investments’ R253 million partnership with H1 Holdings has created around 385 jobs during the construction phase and is expected to provide a further 195 jobs over the projects’ 20-year lifecycle.

“The UK is committed to supporting green, resilient and inclusive recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and I am delighted that this innovative UK programme, run through UK Climate Investments and Macquarie, has supported job creation, localisation and black ownership in this sector.”

– Richard Abel, Managing Director of UK Climate Investments

In a recent interview with Daily Maverick’s Chris Yelland, Eskom CEO, André de Ruyter, said: “The structural underpinnings of our economy have not changed yet and we are not very well prepared for the energy transition that is underway globally. That does not mean we can resist the energy transition. I think we need to accelerate very quickly on this long road to catch up and take advantage of the latest developments in technology.” 

The whole world is encouraged by the Climate crises to shift to renewable energy sources while South Africa has the added challenge of energy sustainability and access to power that we have to tackle. 

Manufacturers need Energy to produce. Regulators are increasingly forcing manufacturers to shift to renewable and alternative sources. Cleaner energy sources are becoming the norm worldwide. South Africa as a country faces energy security as an additional challenge. This leaves manufacturers with no alternative. They have to make the change to renewable sources to ensure sustainable business outputs. 

We are hearing more and more manufacturers converse around the topic of independent power generation for their operations. There are so many various technologies that could be utilized to solve this problem including biogas, waste energy solutions, etc – and that’s only on the power generation side. Companies are also looking at a mix of private production of energy sources like solar PV solutions. 

We are also hearing more and more manufacturers converse about incorporating energy-efficient solutions in their operations. These upgrades include changing existing machinery to potentially automated machinery that requires less energy. The benefit of these upgrades is that the newer energy-efficient machines pull less power from the grid.

This is where we see a massive opportunity for Black Industrialists in South Africa to take charge and author accelerated change. Renewable energy is a clean slate that allows opportunities in brand new industries that have not necessarily previously been prominent in South Africa and therefore hold fewer barriers to entry than more established sectors and value chains.

Opportunities exist in the areas of raw material supply and goods that need to be imported or locally assembled. Uzenzele’s main focus has always been on localization – whether that be for assembly plants for batteries or any other various components that have to go into the clean energy and clean technology spaces. 

We are not sure what the future holds but we encourage you to take up your pen and unpack opportunities in the clean energy and technologies sectors based on your knowledge and networks within specific markets and value chains.  Apply your mind to the tenets of bankability and get in touch with us to strategize your ability to raise development finance and grants – we’d love to co-author your success story and assist you to get the best grants and incentives available.