SouthAfrica.info (Johannesburg)

South Africa: Danish Backing for SA Renewable Energy

Denmark has committed to help South Africa move towards a low-carbon economy by assisting in the growth of the country's renewable energy capacity.

An agreement signed between the two governments on Monday will see Denmark providing financial support to South Africa to invest in wind-based electricity generation, while the Danish will also give technical support to state company Eskom to help integrate renewable energy into its electricity supply.

The agreement was signed in Pretoria on Monday by Energy Minister Dipuo Peters and Danish Ambassador Rene Dinesen, during a meeting between Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe and Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt.

While the full financial details of the agreement were not immediately available, Motlante told reporters in Pretoria that the deal would provide South Africa with much-needed assistance as the country embarks on a clean technology trajectory.

It's understood that Danish International Development Assistance (DANIDA) will provide an interim grant of DKK40-million (approximately US$7.1-million) to South Africa. Some of this will be used to further develop the Wind Atlas of South Africa.

Helle Thorning-Schmidt told journalists before the signing ceremony at the Union Buildings that South Africa was a "strong partner" of Denmark.

"This is a tangible agreement, as it will develop our countries in a new and greener way, which is something very crucial for the future."

Thorning-Schmidt said Denmark in October launched what she called a new strategy for South Africa aimed at further developing relations between the two countries.

Motlanthe said trade relations between Pretoria and Copenhagen had not been reflective of the "good friendship" between the two countries, adding that he hoped the energy agreement would rectify this situation.

"We agree that there is a need to do more to strengthen our relations with the government of Denmark, as our relations and friendship date back to the time of apartheid," he said.

Denmark, which hosted the United Nations climate change summit in 2010, has announced that it will produce a third of its energy from renewable sources - wind power and solar power in particular - by the end of this decade.

The Danish government has also set the ambitious goal of running the entire country on renewables by 2050.

- SAnews.gov.za

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