The German Energy Solutions Initiative at EnLit Africa in 2022

Nicolas Commeignes of the German Energy Solutions Initiative speaks to trade show visitors at the German Pavillion.

© The German Energy Solutions Initiative

After last year’s online event, Enlit Africa (formerly African Utility Week) once again took place in person. Some countries, such as China and India, nonetheless sent no delegations so that the total number of visitors fell short of previous levels. In 2019, 10,692 people from 27 countries attended the event in 2019. No data on visitors in 2022 were available at the time of publication.

South Africa’s dynamic market

South Africa itself continues to suffer from a shortage of generation capacity, and load shedding continues to slow economic growth. The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) has therefore arranged for 2,600 MW of renewable capacity to be tendered in its Renewable Energy Independent Power Producers Procurement Programme (REIPPP); the sixth round is currently underway.

In addition, permitting has been streamlined for commercial and industrial self-supply; such facilities up to 100 MW no longer need a permit. The National Development Plan calls for a sustainable, low-carbon economy, with renewables playing a bigger role. CO2 emissions from power are to fall by a third to 0.6 kg/kWh by 2030. These challenges and trends on the energy market were focal points at side events and in panel discussions.

Hydrogen was another central topic; South Africa is considered a leader in the field in Sub-Saharan Africa. The country has both the potential for large quantities of affordable renewable energy and the industrial infrastructure to turn green hydrogen into low-carbon fuels that are easier to transport, such as ammonia. The goal is to create an integrative, sustainable, competitive export-based hydrogen economy by 2050. Realistic scenarios put the potential at 3.8 million tons of green hydrogen annually. The country is therefore a chief partner for Germany in H2Uppp and H2 Global, two programs of the German government. For South Africa, there is also a hydrogen program: H2SA.

What do the participants say?

The potential for German SMEs offering climate-friendly energy is thus significant. The six firms (IBC SOLAR South Africa, KWS Energy Knowledge, OSSBERGER, Steinmüller Engineering, Stiebel Eltron South Africa, and ZERA) at the German Pavilion met with great interest. “After two hard years of Covid, it’s good to be able to take part in the German Pavilion”, said Ingo Hamann of Stiebel Eltron. But one trade show attendant, Alex Weihe of Weihe GmbH, felt that a mixture of virtual and physical events might be the best going forward: “I can imagine a virtual B2B meeting in advance of the trip so that I can decide whether I really want to go.” On the second day, the German consulate in Cape Town, Sven Hartwig, visited the Pavilion, thereby drawing even more attention.

For Stiebel Eltron, South Africa is the most important market on the continent. Likewise, Daniel Haitzler of IBC Solar says his firm is focussing on the country along with Kenya, “where the German Pavilion could help us a lot.” Although the opportunities are plentiful, the firms all stressed the importance of the Initiative on a market they still consider to be challenging.

Specifically, by participating in the German Energy Solutions Initiative’s joint stand, these six firms were able to inform themselves better about the market. These SMEs emphasized the need to focus their limited resources on strategic markets as the international situation becomes more tense.

Connect with German companies at trade fairs in your country

Every year, the German Energy Solutions Initiative has a stand at various trade shows abroad. The Initiative’s website lists the upcoming trade shows it will attend here.