18 June 2012

South African oceans may provide renewable energy

The Green Times
Wave energy project off the coast of Oregon, USA. Photo courtesy PeachyGreen.com

This article was originally published by The Green Times, South Africa’s weekly green e-newspaper. Subscribe to its free monthly digital newsletter for green news, events and business directories.

The Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) and Eskom are collaborating to explore technologies that can be developed to create and utilise ocean current energy as an alternate source of renewable energy. Submissions are invited from parties and innovators who have an interest in this kind of technology. Workshops will be held in various regions to further introduce and elaborate on the challenge.

The closing date for submissions is Tuesday 3 July.

TIA is fulfilling its mandate to “stimulate and intensify technological innovation in order to improve economic growth and the quality of life of all South Africans” by collaborating with Eskom in this open-innovation initiative, encouraging home-grown solutions to ocean current energy harvesting.

South Africa, with its long coastline and powerful currents, is in an ideal position to exploit renewable marine energy as an economically viable solution as part of its energy mix.

Strongest current on the planet

The Agulhas current, along the Indian Ocean coast, is among the strongest on the planet. According to Eskom’s research division, which has been studying the current for the past six years, it has the capacity to generate 42 GW of electricity.

Ocean current energy technologies, like most renewable marine energy technologies, have lagged behind other forms of renewable energy for a number of reasons. These include the technical challenges posed by the marine environment, and concerns about the impact of the infrastructure on vulnerable ecosystems, among other reasons.

However, the growing demand for new, renewable sources of energy and South Africa’s enviable marine capacity have stimulated interest in its potential to meet this need.

Calling for inventors and research

The open innovation challenge is calling for inventors, small and large enterprises, researchers, universities and NGOs to submit novel ideas for ocean current energy technology, with the prospect of funding most promising proposals.

Therefore, TIA in collaboration with Eskom is looking for proven concept proposals that are environmentally and aesthetically sensitive, and have potential for technology development on a commercial and industrial scale.

Research Institute for Innovation and Sustainability (RIIS), a local innovation consultancy company and pioneer of open innovation practices in South Africa, has been appointed by TIA to project manage the challenge.
TIA will be holding public engagement workshops for interested parties in these four major centres:

Pretoria: 11 June 2012
Cape Town: 19 June 2012
Port Elizabeth: 22 June 2012
Durban: 26 June 2012

The launch date for the challenge is the 1 June 2012 and the deadline for submissions is 3 July 2012.

More information about the challenge and the response template can be accessed here.

Send questions via email or call Jonathan Muringani on (012) 844 0671.

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