The newly launched South African National Energy Development Institute (Sanedi) is expected to assist government in addressing South Africa's energy needs, Energy Minister Dipuo Peters said at the launch of the organisation in Johannesburg last week.
Sanedi will help government in ensuring that the African continent moves away from being the "darkest continent at night", Peters said. "Sanedi is responsible for energy research. We must be well-positioned to enable the energy sector to respond to future energy needs and challenges."
It was established through the merger of the South African National Energy Research Institute (Saneri) and National Energy Efficiency Agency (NEEA).
Sanedi chief executive officer, Kevin Nassiep, said the establishment of Sanedi will assist the green economy and job creation, among others.
"We also need to develop solutions for sustainable development in the future. South Africa needs to be a pioneer of innovation," he said.
Research done by the entity will be used to inform government policy and its strategic energy plan; its primary focus will be to help address the country's rising energy demands in areas such as energy efficiency, green transport and advanced fossil fuels.
Sanedi's strategic plan will include smarter grids to provide better services to South Africans. It will also help the country move towards a low carbon economy, as the country is among the world's highest carbon gas emitters.
It was important to be energy conscious, Peters said, adding that when buying household products, people should consider energy efficient products.
Government also needed to also become more energy efficient. "Government spends a lot of money on electricity," she said.
Funds set aside for energy efficiency in government departments had been used for other purposes, but Peters said this was being addressed through measures such as the release of building codes by the Trade and Industry Department.
Sanedi and the Transport Deparment were also in negotiations for the funding of green transport projects, which had been largely untapped.
Peters appealed to the public to assist in the campaign to install one million solar water heaters by 2014 as this could save up to 3 000 megawatts - enough to supply a power plant.