The Flemish Institute for Technological Research, VITO, in collaboration with its South African counterpart, CSIR, is conducting research on sustainable electricity storage in South Africa.
The project, co-financed by the Flemish government, is expected to help resolve load shedding (electricity rationing) in the country.
Belgium's King Philippe, who visited the CSIR in Pretoria on Thursday as part of his state visit to South Africa, was briefed on battery-testing infrastructure that the South African research centre has set up in collaboration with its Flemish counterpart.
South Africa has been facing power cuts for several months due to its ageing energy infrastructure.
The country still relies heavily on coal, according to Bruno Reyntjens, commercial director of the Flemish Institute of Technology.
Investing in battery storage in combination with a shift to wind and solar power is a solution to South Africa’s energy problem, he says. Moreover, the storage capacity of batteries also offers opportunities to set up small-scale energy networks in remote areas.
Earlier in the day, King Philippe and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa discussed the issue during a meeting at the CSIR. In the eyes of the Belgian monarch, “the promotion of new technologies for an equitable transition to clean energy” is, in fact, one of the most important elements of the state visit.
South Africa wants to revolutionise its energy sector, and thus reduce its carbon emissions, President Cyril Ramaphosa explained. “We are actively seeking investment in the energy sector, with a focus on renewables and hydrogen,” the South African head of state stressed.
“This is an area in which Belgium excels, we learned. Belgium has a proven track record in developing and implementing innovative renewable energy solutions. Together we can create sustainable and environmentally friendly energy solutions that will benefit both our countries,” President Ramaphosa noted.