Sanedi, University of Venda partner in rural Limpopo energy project

The South African National Energy Development Institute (Sanedi) hosted a two-day session at the University of Venda as they officially join hands in tackling the energy needs faced by rural Limpopo villages through renewable power and hydrogen research.

The project is set to empower young graduates from local TVETs with skills training, create jobs in the areas and boost the rural economy.

The visit was hosted by the University of Venda’s Vice Chancellor, Dr Bernard Nthambeleni on May 2 and 3.

Sanedi, established by the government, directs, monitors, and conducts applied energy research to develop innovative, integrated solutions to catalyse growth and prosperity in the green economy.

It drives scientific evidence-driven ventures that contribute to youth empowerment, gender equity, environmental sustainability, and the 4th Industrial Revolution, within the National Development Plan (NDP), through consultative, sustainable energy projects.

The project is aimed at improving the lives of those living in the surrounding rural Limpopo. 

Integration of various technology systems 

It was the culmination of a proposal by the university, focused on research centered on the infrastructure installed by the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) in collaboration with Sanedi at the Masia Multipurpose Community Centre.

The collaboration is said to integrate systems and the various technologies fitted at the multipurpose centre deployed by the DSI. This includes a 5-kilowatt hydrogen fuel cell with an on-site electrolyser for hydrogen production.

It also features a 20 kWp solar PV system, a 2.5 kW solar bryton cycle technology to power the community centre. Agricultural activities like vegetable, field, and fruit tree nurseries are also featured. The system also powers the borehole pump, ensuring water provision.

Head of Sanedi’s Energy Secretariat and research lead, Professor Sampson Mamphweli said: “The proposal was approved as it aligns with the national research priorities of South Africa’s Hydrogen Society roadmap. While simultaneously expanding on the work the DSI has already begun with the Energy Secretariat at Sanedi.

“The research will assist in establishing the best technical integration of the various energy systems. And the feasibility of projects under the study for the roll-out at national level also benefit,” Maphweli explains.

He stated that there are plans to record the outcomes and use them to inform policy and the national roll-out of renewable energy technologies. The roll-out will be in the water, food and energy nexus projects for stimulation of rural economic development. 

Extensive research phase

Mamphweli said the discussions of this project were held with Sanedi’s delegation and the University’s researchers. This to determine areas of collaboration and scale up potential of the research.

Professor Mamphweli delivered a public lecture on South Africa’s energy challenges at the event. He focused on solutions the government and Sanedi are working on to help the country escape its power crisis.

Sanedi’s CEO, Dr Titus Mathe delivered a speech and present possible collaborative areas.

A signing ceremony for an initial R1-million worth of collaborations took place. 

Maphweli said the research is targeted at enterprise development level. This will be achieved through powering the agricultural activities conducted by young people who are TVET college graduates.

In this way, job creation will be promoted, while equipping young people with the training. This training is vital in burgeoning renewable energy systems and modern solutions.

The centre is also used for public awareness of renewable energy and hydrogen technologies, and for research purposes. The site is open to the public. This allows the community in the Vhembe region to use it to learn about the systems deployed.

Encourage adoption of renewable energy

“We envisage that the research will lead to higher levels of awareness of renewable energy. Also the widespread adoption of renewable energy technologies by society,” he said.

Sanedi will also seek further areas of collaboration during the visit. 

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