A biogas system at Njhingha Primary in the Chavani village. Source: SANEDI and UNIVEN

In South Africa, the University of Venda (UNIVEN) in Limpopo is leading the field in the research, development and demonstration of waste to energy conversion.

Attaining this position is thanks to the partnership with the South African National Energy Development Institute (SANEDI) and other prominent local and international role players.

Since 2009, the University’s Green Technologies Promotion (UNIVEN Green Tech Promo) Drive has embarked on various successful projects. These include the completion of a waste to energy conversion training and awareness initiative in the Vhembe district in 2014.

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Clean power
Waste to power

This project formed part an overall green economy awareness programme that was sponsored by the Limpopo Department of Economic Development, Environment and Tourism (LEDET).

David Mahuma, the General Manager of Clean Energy at SANEDI, commented: “We are pleased to partner and support the various and ongoing projects of the University of Venda.

“They are doing tremendous work to support the communities to transit towards the circular economy, demonstrating how animal and farm waste can be reused to benefit local communities by providing cleaner-burning biogas and biofertiliser which enhance food production.”

He added: “The university’s work amongst the women and youth of Limpopo is making an indelible impact that will impart skills, create sustainable jobs and best practices for years to come.”

Research in clean energy technologies

Through its Working for Energy Programme, SANEDI continues to spearhead its applied research mandate by bringing clean energy technologies’ awareness and access to low income communities across the country. 

These interventions also culminate in the development of new knowledge on how communities interact with technologies. As well as what improvements need to be undertaken to promote a better uptake of sustainability and circular economy interventions. 

This is done in partnership with leading organisations which also operate in these communities.

The UNIVEN’s Green Tech Promo Drive has also attracted other local and international support, which includes the rollout of the GEF (Global Environment Fund) project, Promoting Organic Waste-to-Energy and Other Low-Carbon Technologies in Small and Medium and Micro-Scale Enterprises (SMMEs): Accelerating Biogas Market Development, administered by the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO). 

UNIVEN: Green-tech drive

During this period SANEDI co-financed the UNIVEN Green Tech Promo Drive project aimed at enhancing awareness and capacity building amongst Limpopo’s women and youth skills development in clean energy technologies.

This culminated in the greening of the Mhingaville Early Childhood Development Centre, a project which saw the uptake of biogas digesters built by the Vatsekeme, a Community Based Organisation led by a woman – the organisation was also trained as part of the SANEDI partnership. 

The above extended to the construction of an additional nine institutional size biogas systems in the Chavani village using additional local beneficiaries from the training of the partnership.

UNIVEN is also currently assisting SANEDI with the impact assessment and restructuring of the Gawula Biogas Project for improved impact on the community.

Limpopo municipalities such as the Capricorn District Municipality (CDM) are also supporting the UNIVEN Green Tech Promo Drive which offers solutions to women and youth unemployment, poverty alleviation, addressing inequality, addressing cooking energy shortages, enhancing food security and other climate change impacts like the reduction of greenhouse gases emissions.