Exclusive interview with Wim Jonker Klunne, Senior Researcher Renewable Energy, CSIR, South Africa. Wim is a regular speaker at Clean Power Africa (formerly Hydropower Africa) and this year will chair a session on “Small and Mini Hydro Projects – The way forward”.
What are you currently working on that you are most excited about?
I am currently working on a number of projects, all related to the implementation of renewable energy technologies and energy management systems in South(ern) Africa. The main communality is the question on how to ensure a sustainable operation and the maintenance of the installed technologies, i.e. how do we make sure that whatever technology we put on the ground stays operational? This relates to a number of technical, institutional and legislative issues that makes this a very interesting field.
How important are small and mini hydro projects for Africa’s renewable energy development?
Small and mini hydro will need to be an integral part of the future energy mix in Africa, but particularly in providing electricity to more remote areas this technology can play an important role. Hydropower is a mature technology that can play an important role in Africa.
Which countries are making good progress?
We see different type of progress in different countries. South Africa, for example, has a sole focus on grid connected systems via the REIPPP. Zimbabwe in contrast has seen a number of IPPs providing hydro-based rural electrification.
Any interesting case studies/success stories you can share with us?
I would say that countries like Uganda and Rwanda are really making progress in the field of small hydro, both with strong government and international support for this technology.
What will be your main message at this year’s Clean Power Africa?
My message would be that we are currently seeing very substantial developments in the renewable energy field in the region after quite a number of years with very slow progress, showing that renewables really have a future in the region.
What are you most looking forward to at Clean Power Africa?
Definitely meeting colleagues active in the field and getting updated on the most recent developments!
Anything you would like to add?
Two years ago at the Hydropower Africa conference I launched my database on hydropower in Eastern and Southern Africa. The aim of the database is to bring information together on hydropower developments. Since that time I have received very valuable contributions from colleagues and participants at the conference and the database has grown substantially (and is still growing), for which I am really grateful. Feel free to visit my hydropower database at http://hydro4africa.net/HP_database
I really would like to urge colleagues active in the field to join us in Cape Town mid May.