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UK-driven initiative to boost SA’s clean energy efforts

Staff Writer
By Staff Writer
Johannesburg, 07 Mar 2024
From left: Innovate UK’s Matthew Bray, Energy Council of SA CEO James Mackay and City of Cape Town executive director for energy Kadri Nassiep.
From left: Innovate UK’s Matthew Bray, Energy Council of SA CEO James Mackay and City of Cape Town executive director for energy Kadri Nassiep.

Innovate UK, the UK government’s national innovation agency, this week launched the UK-South Africa Smart Energy Global Innovation Network.

The new network was announced during the Africa Energy Indaba in Cape Town, and is led by Innovate UK’s Global Alliance Africa project in SA.

According to a statement, it serves as a platform to connect energy innovators, entrepreneurs, policymakers and investors, with the aim to drive development and adoption of smart, digital and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies in the South African and UK energy industries.

Furthermore, the launch coincides with both countries' efforts to shift from fossil fuels to renewable sources, like hydro, solar and wind energy.

“This paradigm shift is creating new opportunities in fields such as smart grid development, interconnection, energy storage and demand management. But in doing so, we are inviting complexities into the system – complexities which will need to be efficiently managed,” says Matthew Bray, knowledge transfer manager for SA at Innovate UK.

“Like the financial, commercial, agricultural and arguably all other sectors have done, the energy sector needs to look at how solutions in data collection, machine learning and deep learning can be applied to achieve this transition.”

The statement notes the Smart Energy Global Innovation Network was developed through consultations with the local and UK ecosystems. The project identified an opportunity to share knowledge and test, fund and adapt home-grown solutions in each other’s markets.

It will focus on four key initiatives: knowledge exchange, collaborative research and development, expert tours for South African organisations to engage UK energy stakeholders, as well as research.

The initiatives, says Innovate UK, will focus on three core areas of application: integrating renewable energy, building smarter grids and applying AI in energy.