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The Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) has launched the South African Renewable Energy Technology Centre (Saretec) at its Bellville campus. Saretec provides training for wind turbine service technicians and solar photovoltaic (PV) installers, as well as technicians in energy efficiency and biomass/biogas.

Speaking at the launch of the facility, Higher Education and Training Director-General Gwebinkundla Qonde said that Saretec is positioned in a space where it can “exert maximum influence” through research-informed teaching and skills development in service of the community, industry and society. “The department is pleased that the project that began in 2012 has come to fruition and is now supplying the much-needed specialised skills for the growing renewable energy industry in South Africa,” he said.

The Department of Higher Education and Training provided R105-million for establishing and equipping Saretec through the National Skills Fund. R24-million of this was allocated for operational fees for three years.

Renewable training centre launchedAccording to Saretec Director Naim Rassool, the idea of the facility was born from the lack of capabilities among educational institutions to offer this type of training. Saretec received the funding in 2012 and began its first training programme in 2016. Wind energy decision-makers had travelled to Germany on several study tours to learn more about the needs and curricula for the centre. South African Photovoltaic Industry Association (SAPVIA) has also worked with Saretec over the last two years to develop a curriculum and a two-year qualification to qualify as a PV technician.

Rassool says that a number of strategic initiatives have been planned for the centre. Among these is taking technical training directly to wind and solar farms and introducing basic training to young people in communities close to solar farms. Saretec is also partnering with OEMs in East Africa to train wind turbine technicians in the emerging African market, and is also working on proposals to reskill South African coal mine workers.

“The university is an ideal base for the centre, particularly with the great scope for renewable energy in South Africa. The Western Cape is home to four universities with well-established research and innovation in renewable energy. Training, research and development and business incubation will lead to a more innovative sector,” CPUT Vice Chancellor Dr Chris Nhlapo said at the launch of Saretec.

Image credit: https://www.saretec.org.za/about-us/saretec-team/

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