Cape Town – Learning that is available through available technology at South Africa's first national renewable energy technology center must be made available across Western Cape, said Gwebinkundla Qonde, Director General for Higher Education and Training.
He spoke at the launch of South Africa's Renewable Energy Technology Center (Saretec) on Bellville campus at the University of Technique Peninsula (CPUT) yesterday.
The landmark event brought a number of industry partners supporting Saretec and are leaders in the field of renewable energy.
Qonde said the need to move to renewable energy sources remained significant.
"Saretec is positioned in an area where it can exert the greatest influence through research-updated teaching and skills development at the service of the community, industry and society.
"The department is pleased that the project started in 2012 has been completed and now provides the required specialized skills for the growing renewable energy industry in South Africa," he said.
Qonde said the division, through the National Skills Fund, allocated R105 million to build and equip Saretec, which included R 24 million for its operating fees for three years.
The only center of its kind in Africa, Saretec is training Wind Turbine and Solar PV technicians and is also instructed to train technicians in energy efficiency and biomass / biogas.
Saretec director Naim Rassool said the concept stems from the strong need to train these rare skills in the renewable energy industry.
"When he saw that none of the educational institutions had the potential to do this training and there was the idea of Saretec," he said.
"Many trips to Germany were undertaken to see what looks like a renewable energy training center.
"We have funding in 2012, we started construction in 2015. In 2016 we started our first training program," he said.
Rassool said the industry needs technicians, with the first eight in the final stages of rigorous training and all hands selected according to their qualifications and background.
He said with new wind farms coming online in 2020, the need would be higher and Saretec would train 24 technicians.
CPUT Vice President Chris Nhlapo said the need for such a center resulted from the government's announcement that it would install 6,724 megawatts of solar and wind power in the next 10 years.
He said this means that higher education institutions should train and build infrastructures in this highly specialized field, making CPUT the ideal one.
Frenrico Resandt, from Eneke near Piketberg, a trainee in the Apprentice Skills Changer program, holds a degree in electrical engineering.
"I have applied for the program last year, but because of student unrest has stopped, but this year I received a call and asked if I was still interested," he said.
"I have finished my work as a radio frequency technician. I worked on the electronics when I was in the navy, so I grabbed this opportunity with both hands."
Sinovuyo Mhlobo-Nqamakwe, from Cape Verde, has a national engineering diploma from the Walter Sisulu University.
Mhlobo-Nqamakwe said the training was rigorous but enjoyed every minute.
He said there were only three women in education and supported and helped by their men their counterparts.