HomeFeatures/AnalysisExclusive interview with Christina Wittek, the Head of Division, German Energy Solutions...

Exclusive interview with Christina Wittek, the Head of Division, German Energy Solutions Initiative at the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy

What kind of activities are you involved in in Africa?

In Africa, the whole range of the activities that we offer are being carried out. The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) is implementing the Project Development Programme (PDP), which focuses on developing and emerging energy markets. The PDP is giving policy advice in order to help establish the necessary framework conditions for the implementation of smart energy solutions focusing on renewable energies.

In markets that already have a German Bilateral Chamber of Commerce (AHK), we are facilitating net-working opportunities between German and African SMEs with their help in order to foster business cooperations. Further, the initiative supports SME in realisation of reference pro-jects with the purpose of showcasing “energy solutions – made in Germany” as well as ena-bling them to exhibit at international trade fairs such as the African Utility Week. We also offer fact-finding missions to Germany for African company representatives and decision makers. Our aim is to enable them to gather first-hand information on energy solutions by visiting reference projects and demonstration sides.

This year we are organizing 23 activities on the  African continent. These activities comprise nine AHK Trade Mission from Germany to various African countries, four fact-finding mission to Germany, three reference projects are being implemented and three information events on African energy markets are taking place in Germany. We will also be present at one more trade fair in Morocco.

What kind of activities are taking place for and in South Africa this year?

On 19th May already the second reference project within the dena-Renewable-Energy-Solutions-Programme in South Africa will be commissioned. With this project the German company is transferring the PV renting approach to South Africa. This approach offers a smart business model for financing such a power producing system. A first 20kWp pilot project was installed at the Dominican Grimley School in Hout Bay in February 2016 and a second one is currently being implemented at the Atlantic Gold Guest House.

The project has successfully tackled the challenge of financing tools for PV systems not being readily available in South Africa, which is the main obstacles to the implementation of small scale photovoltaic systems in South Africa.

This year there also will be two trade missions to South Africa. The first one will take place during the first week of May bringing German bioenergy companies to South Africa and the second one will be in June on “Energy efficiency in the building sector”. Further, South Afri-can companies will have the opportunity to visit Germany from July 18th till 21st and get informed about energy efficient technologies that can be applied in the industrial sector.

You will bring a German Pavilion to the African Utility Week in Cape Town in May, what kind of companies will be part of this stand?

We are very much looking forward to the African Utility Week. We will have nine German companies at our stand. All companies are energy solution providers: we have manufactur-ers of wind turbines, battery storage solutions and hydro power plants as well as providers of systems for producing, measuring, testing and calibrating electrical quantities, a utility company, EPC providers and solar companies.

How important is the South African market for the German suppliers of renewable energy technologies and services?

The South African market is a growing and interesting market for German suppliers of ener-gy solutions. Therefore the German Energy Solutions Initiative has been focusing on the South African market for years. The importance has been increasing in the last years. More and more German companies are establishing offices in South Africa not just because of the growing market for renewable energies but also because it can be seen as a gateway to the neighbouring countries.

And the African market?

Even though the energy markets are still at an early stage in some African countries, we see an enormous potential for renewable energies as well as the possibility to establish a sustainable energy system. This is especially the case in countries where access to energy is lacking. German companies have gained lots of experience and know-how in this area over the years and can provide the necessary technologies and expertise. We see the African markets gaining even more importance for German suppliers of renewable energy technolo-gies and services in the future.

What challenges do renewable energies face in Africa in your view?

Like almost everywhere, the biggest challenge is financing, especially for small-scale instal-lations. Therefore, it is very important to develop business models that are economically viable. One possible business model is the PV renting approach which I mentioned before. PV renting means that one entity invests in a PV system (System Owner) and rents the system to a second entity (System operator). The system operator uses the electricity and pays a monthly rental fee to the system owner. Furthermore, the system owner gets the option to buy the system after 10-15 years (similar to car leasing)

What are you most looking forward to at African Utility Week?

We are looking forward to interesting exchanges on energy solutions and are very happy to once again be part of the African Utility Week.