Energy Grand Challenge Department of Science and Technology update

Science and Technology

29 February 2012
Chairperson: Mr N Ngcobo (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Department of Science and Technology (DST) gave an update on its role in the Energy Grand Challenge, which related to security of energy and environmental protection. This was both a local and global issues, which would have serious implications for energy and related policy objectives. There were three aspects; firstly, an economic dimension of insufficient supply, which raised issues of how to secure the reserve margin to sustain the country’s economic growth ambitions, secondly, the fact that almost a third of the population still lacked access to modern energy resources, which raised health issues around collecting and using firewood, and thirdly the need for environmental protection. The DST set out its objectives to respond to the Energy Grand Challenge. It must develop and demonstrate alternative technologies that would diversify energy resources away from reliance on coal to a low carbon economy, achieve a paradigm shift away from reliance on coal, and reduce the energy intensity of the economy, to avoid penalties on high carbon outputs. South Africa should leverage its natural resources and develop its own technological capabilities both to reduce its current dependence on foreign technology, and to enable commercialisation of its own solutions elsewhere.

DST’s strategy was implemented through a number of research institutions and universities were involved in research and some commercialisation, in partnership with industry. There was a particular focus on renewable energy, nuclear energy, conservation and energy efficiency, hydrogen, transport fuels and technology, and energy storage capabilities, and various cross-cutting issues were identified. DST was aware of the need to enhance public awareness and develop and pilot prototypes. Policy and human resources must be aligned to the technological developments. The funders, and the innovation chain, were set out, and the business sector was called upon to play a more prominent role in solutions. Basic research must be commercialised to reach the market. DST was not the only player and so a coordinated approach across sectors was needed. DST highlighted its work in Hydrogen SA, which was researching and developing hydrogen fuel cells. Some of the Centres of Competence and their work were outlined, and it was noted that they supported a number of students at different levels. The Sector Budget Support programme was used to showcase the socio-economic impact of innovative energy technology solutions, and this programme also supported other solutions, outside of energy. DST had targeted achieving a 15% contribution of renewable technology to the energy mix, a 35% of renewables to liquid fuel, and reduction of 10% dependence on crude products. Programmes were driving solar thermal energy, solar photovoltaic energy and wind energy, whilst there were three Research Chairs on bio-fuels late generation, bio-fuels conventional technologies, and clean coal. It was supporting the quantification of solar resources through solar mapping, hoping to achieve greater investment in this area. More details were provided on these programmes. DST also ran partnerships with the science councils, and an Energy bursary programme, and in 2012 it would support 54 students from Masters to Post Doctoral level.

Members asked the DST to profile science and technology in simple language that could be readily understood, asked about its specific awareness campaigns in rural areas and to specific students, and asked for details on the recipients of bursaries. They asked about the algae-to-energy research, and time frames for the solar resource mapping, They commended the approach to address socio-economic issues through energy initiatives. Members asked whether there had been a transfer of skills, whether there was now more local expertise, and later questioned whether DST should have a particular focus, or if the focus should not be on broad training in all types of energy. DST responded that it was hoping to create a pipeline of expertise in preparation for the changes to renewable technologies. A Member raised concerns that some schools only offered science teaching in Afrikaans, and students had to take bridging courses to prepare themselves for university studies in English. Members asked how electricity could be taken to remote areas, asked about generation of power from waste, and commented on the distinction between “free” sources and renewable energy production, which was presently expensive. DST was urged to fulfil its obligations under the National Energy Act and ensure that other line departments in fact implemented solutions, rather than DST doing so, and it was also urged to liaise with Sasol on its new technology, as well as heighten cooperation with the Department of Transport. 

Meeting report

Update on the Energy Grand Challenge: Department of Science and Technology briefing
Dr Velaphi Msimang, Chief Director, Department of Science and Technology, noted that the ten-year innovation plan of the Department identified energy as one of the key strategic areas to fulfil the vision of transforming the economy towards a knowledge base, and leveraging South African intellectual property for the benefit of society and the economy. The Department of Science and Technology (DST or the Department) was then tasked with articulating what the “Energy Grand Challenge” was. DST had looked at the initiatives that it had been funding over the previous years, and had reconstituted its Chief Directorate for Energy.

The main challenges lay in ensuring energy security and environmental protection, which were multi-dimensional, and related not only to South Africa but to the world, and had serious implications for the country’s energy and related policy objectives.

Energy technologies were largely imported, so a lot of foreign currency was spent on procuring solutions. DST was looking at how to get South Africa to be energy secure without impacting negatively on its other significant policy ambitions, such as growing the country’s economy. The solutions procured must also not detract from protection of the environment and must advance South Africa’s climate change objectives.

Dr Msimang stressed that the DST did not make energy policies, but worked closely with other departments that were involved in issues relating to energy, including the Departments of Economic Development, Environmental Affairs, Energy, and Mineral Resources. DST had a very specific and prescribed role.

There were three main dimensions of the Energy Grand Challenge. In 2007 and 2008, when South Africa experienced load shedding, the Energy Regulator spoke about an economic dimension that resulted from the lack of supply. That presented the challenge of how to secure the Eskom reserve margin in a way that would sustain the economic growth ambition. Another dimension was that almost a third of the country’s population still did not have access to modern energy services. People in rural environments still had to walk long distances to collect firewood, and they could be using their time more productively. There were health implications of using firewood for light and heating, but the most pressing dimension spoke to environmental protection, particularly climate change and urban air pollution.

Eskom had challenges in stretching the grid to the sparsely populated areas, and needed to target renewable energy solutions, which also had their own challenges, including the fact that their upfront costs tended to be steep. The country had good coal resources but coal was a source of energy, and there were challenges in how to convert it to “clean” coal, given its ready availability Most of the liquid fuel came from the Middle East, which was politically unstable, with cost challenges. DST had to come up with solutions to address those three dimensions in the best possible way.

DST considered that innovative energy solutions were important. Renewables on the supply side did not need the type of centralised power grid that was difficult to distribute to sparsely-populated areas, and thus “pockets” of grids could be set up, at minimal cost, because these solutions involved sun, wind and ocean. However, there had been under-funding on the cost of the technologies and the area was very competitive. Technologies that were currently dominant benefited from economies of scale and, for instance, each power plant built could incorporate new technology and practice. Renewables may seem expensive now, but the cost would drop over time.

The President had announced that South Africa wanted to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 30% within the next ten to fifteen years. That was a very difficult challenge, given the amount of investment needed for building a low carbon infrastructure. In addition, DST would need to consider what type of infrastructure to build, as there were very long lead times with some of the solutions, including nuclear power, where it was several years before it would produce any electricity, and the costs were unknown. Any new plant would still have to be commissioned before the trajectory of carbon dioxide emissions could be gauged. The DST faced urgent challenges.

Science and technology had a crucial role to play in supply and demand. There was a need for investment in Research and Development (R&D) to improve the current performance of technologies on offer. Some were not yet in the market, and some were very new in the market, including renewable energy sources, so their upfront costs were still high. There was a need to leverage current and projected energy of large-scale infrastructure to meet both energy demands and science and technology systems. It would not make sense for South Africa to spend huge amounts on off-the-shelf solutions from foreign companies who would then leave. Foreign companies were still doing most of the maintenance on Eskom’s nuclear power plants, when there should have been effective transfer of technology skills to local nuclear experts at the time of initial procurement. South Africa could become a clever buyer in ensuring that when technology was bought, it was linked to agreements for transfer of capabilities.

Policy must be developed simultaneously to encourage uptake of innovative solutions. Innovation had to be comprehensive and not only consider the financing framework but returns on investment. DST saw government as a potential early market for some of the innovative solutions, and this would demonstrate government’s confidence and commitment to those solutions. So far, South Africa had invested more money on nuclear than on renewable energy.

Dr Msimang then set out the strategic objectives of the Department with respect to the Energy Grand Challenge, namely:
- To develop and demonstrate advanced alternative technologies that could contribute to diversifying energy resources away from fossil fuels towards low carbon economy. He reminded Members that 90% of our electricity came from coal.
- To develop and demonstrate advanced alternative technologies that could contribute to distributed energy solutions. There needed to be a paradigm shift away from reliance on coal.
- To develop and demonstrate advanced technologies that could contribute to reducing the energy intensity of the economy. The amount of energy used, for the size of the economy, was excessive and must be reduced, given the high pricing of carbon, and the threat of carbon emission penalties.
- To develop and  demonstrate advanced technological capabilities that would contribute to leveraging advantages that South Africa had already in natural resources that could make a contribution to the energy mix, particularly solar resources and pockets of wind resources.

Dr Msimang noted that South Africa had world leading capabilities in some niche areas, including Sasol technology, which could be leveraged for renewable energy since similar technology was used to convert biomass to liquid fuel.

The work of the DST was anchored around the approved draft strategy for energy, research, development and innovation. This strategy was currently implemented through a number of research institutes, including the South African National Energy Development Institute (SANEDI), the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and Mintek. The ten-year plan also involved universities, because it looked to commercialisation of the intellectual property developed through funding, and building relationships and consortiums through from initial research to the industrial and commercial sector.

Dr Msimang explained the implementation architecture. Technology was used to produce lighting, mobility, heating and cooling. The areas of focus lay in renewable energy, nuclear energy, conservation and energy efficiency, hydrogen, transport fuels and technology, and energy storage capabilities, and various cross-cutting issues were identified. Potential end-user markets must be sensitised to sustainability, desirability and functionality of these solutions, so they would be deployed. Therefore, it was necessary to enhance public awareness, develop and pilot prototypes, and establish partnerships, both local and international (because of the scale of investment). There should be coherence and policy alignment, development of human resources, and establishment of infrastructure and technology platforms, to support investment.

Dr Msimang used a slide to illustrate the approach followed by DST to the innovation chain, again emphasising that this chain ran from the basic research that DST funded to commercialisation of the solutions. The main funders were the National Research Foundation (NRF), which focused mostly on the basic end of the value chain, the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA), who bridged the gap between basic research, marketing and commercialisation of the solutions; and the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), who commanded bigger budgets. A number of academic institutions were included in the basic research, mainly higher education institutions, but also including CSIR, SANERI, Mintek, National Energy Corporation of South Africa, South African Bureau of Standards, National Energy Regulator and partnerships. Human capital development was an overarching need, and the business sector must play a more prominent role in solutions. The upstream effects would include publications and new knowledge, whilst downstream effects included patents and new knowledge products.

A network of players was needed across the value chain, to ensure that the outputs of basic research actually reached the market. Universities could do basic research, but they might also have contractual relationships with industrial players, and the science councils. The DST must ensure that it bridged the innovation chasm to ensure that South Africa did not lose its intellectual property but instead patented and commercialised it.

Dr Msimang stressed that DST could not be the only player in the Grand Energy Challenge. A coordinated approach was needed.  The single biggest initiative the DST funded was Hydrogen South Africa (HySA), a Cabinet-approved research development strategy in hydrogen and fuel cells, dating back to 2007. HySA was to look at the development of a platinum group-metal based capability, in the form of catalysts, in South Africa. This could supply 25% of catalyst demand for the global fuel cell industry. The second objective was to develop a local cost-competitive hydrogen infrastructure position, whilst the third objective was to promote beneficiation development downstream from intellectual property.

The entities under the DST that championed this work were the Infrastructure Centre of Competence, the Catalyst Centre of Competence, and the Systems Centre of Competence. North West University partnered with the CSIR to champion its Infrastructure Centre of Competence. The Catalyst Centre of Competence involved the University of Cape Town together with Mintek, whilst University of the Western Cape championed the Systems Centre of Competence.

Dr Msimang outlined some of the highlights on the HySA. The first Centre of Competence was launched in 2010. There had been establishment of a R100 million fund, the Clean Energy Investment DST-Anglo-Platinum Fund, with technology partner Altergy Power Systems. In partnership with a German company, the know-how in fuel cell manufacturing was being developed. There had been design of fuel-cell based back-up power systems for telecom applications, and this was currently being constructed by a South African engineering company. There had been development of a Hydrogen storage prototype demonstrated on the hydrogen e-bike (Ahi fambeni!). A small-scale prototype battery component manufacturing line for fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) had been set up.

HySA Centres of Competence supported a number of students at different levels, from Masters to post-Doctoral. South Africa did not initially have expertise and had imported it, but international experts should transfer their knowledge to local students.

The DST had decided that the Sector Budget Support (SBS) programme, funded with European Union funding, would be used to showcase the socio-economic impact of innovative energy technology solutions. The SBS fund also supported other solutions, outside of energy. He highlighted some of the projects driven under the Renewal Energy and Transport Fuels Directorate. These included the Pilot-2 stage anaerobic digester technology innovation, being run through CSIR, that would help municipalities to generate biogas and optimise waste water treatment facilities. The Durban University of Technology was working to piloting a  hybrid technology solution for renewable energy to municipalities serving rural communities. The University of Fort Hare was setting up a Renewable Energy Generation Infrastructure to supply heat and electricity to an agro-processing facility that bought produce from emerging farmers and supplied the school nutritional programmes.

The Directorate on Transport and Renewable Energy had 18 objectives. It targeted 15% contribution to the energy mix from renewable technologies, hoped to maintain or exceed the 35% contribution to liquid fuels; and to reduce the transport sector’s dependency on crude products by 10%.

The Transport and Renewable Energy Sector operated a renewable energy Hub based on programmes driving solar thermal energy, Solar Photovoltaic (PV), and wind. There were three Research Chairs on bio-fuels late generation, bio-fuels conventional technologies, and clean coal. There were partnerships with the science councils, and an Energy bursary programme.

The draft framework on Solar Resource Mapping looked at enhancing the quantification of solar resources. Current technology used satellite data. However, the data in institutions was largely derived from models, rather than being directly measured. DST had set up an initiative to ensure ground-based measurement of the solar resource, to improve investor-confidence. The mapping would support solar energy generation by monitoring and measuring the availability of the solar resource network. The DST was working with international partners on the World Solar Atlas.

The Solar Thermal objective was bulk power generation using concentrated solar power, through development of thermal systems, ranging from components to plants, and including hardware and software. The University of Stellenbosch and the University of Pretoria were driving that work. The Solar PV programme aimed to reduce the cost and improve efficiency of photovoltaic technology, by investigating alternative materials. Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University and University of Fort Hare were involved in this.

In addition, bio-energy work was driven by NRF and SAEON, who were looking at the potential for bio-energy’s contribution to the energy mix. Algae-to-Energy work was being done by the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, and this included the transforming of coal dust, an environmental hazard, to usable lumps of coal. Wind capability initiatives aimed to develop high efficiency turbine blades, with an emphasis on low wind speed regimes.

Human capital development remained at the core of DST activities and 54 students at different levels from Masters to Post Doctoral were being supported in 2012.

Dr Msimang concluded that there was a need to ensure that policy was aligned and coordinated, and that there was adequate capacity to implement initiatives. Numerous opportunities existed for South Africa to advance its socio-economic policy through addressing the Energy Grand Challenge. It could build its science and technology systems by leveraging the energy technology procurement programmes, and hoped to be able to offer solutions to the global market. DST was looking to develop a critical mass of technological capabilities, aligned and coherent policies, and address solutions.

Ms M Dunjwa (ANC) asked the Department to number the slides in future presentations.

Both Dr Msimang and Dr Val Munsami, Deputy Director General: Research, Development and Innovation, DST, apologised for the inconvenience and assured Members this would not recur.

Ms Dunjwa asked what the Department was doing about public awareness, urging it to profile science and technology in simple language that could be readily understood.

Dr Msimang responded that DST continuously tried to address challenges and opportunities, mostly under the NRF, but partners from the Human Capital Programme also championed public awareness initiatives. DST would often target students and encourage them to enrol in science and technology, and energy-related initiatives, at certain schools. DST had “adopted” the Dinaledi schools for the benefit of science and technology.

Mr Somila Xosa, Director: Transport and Renewable Energy, DST, added that the DST was debating how best to impact on schools that were both in close proximity to some programmes (for instance, in Western Cape) and those further afield. DST presented some modules at summer schools. DST aimed to have a much more structured roll out of public awareness focusing on renewable energy.

Ms Dunjwa referred to the algae-to-energy research, and wondered why this was being done in Port Elizabeth, because there was not much coal used in that area.

Mr Xosa responded that every entity supported by the DST had a national responsibility and therefore would not confine itself to local issues. Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University had capabilities in algae technology. The algae projects targeted the transport fuel sector. Eskom had open-cycle gas turbines, which it had used during the energy crisis of 2007, in Eastern and Western Cape. These were currently being run on bunker fuel, but it was believed that a similar product could be produced using algae, a renewable fuel source. He added that algae was a biomass and could also be used in other applications, including mixing it with fossil-based fuel, and tests were being conducted on whether algae-based coal could withstand heat required for Eskom processes.

Ms Dunjwa requested that in future the DST present a breakdown as to gender, race and class of students.

Ms Dunjwa commented that the conclusions were very profound. The DST must assist each and every government department and achieve the Executive’s mandate, and the dual approach of addressing socio-economic policy through energy challenges was very important.

Dr Munsami agreed that DST’s role, especially on socio-economic policy, should be given more prominence, and that it must support other line departments in health and energy initiatives. Although DST could not set policy in other departments, that policy must be informed by technology solutions reached by DST.

Ms P Mocumi (ANC) referred to the solar resource mapping slides and asked about specific time frames.

Mr Xosa explained that no time frames were set as yet, because it was a draft document. Some activities would be done before the end of the year, and before March, DST would be finalising its working mechanism with the South African Weather Services (SAWS) and the Agricultural Research Council (ARC), and South African National Space Agency (SANSA). He noted that the schematic diagram contained five pillars. SANSA should indicate, before June, how data could be accessed from the satellite. He indicated that the red block (see attached presentation) represented SAWS and ARC work, and other blocks represented the tertiary environment, hosting and different entities’ calibration of equipment to measure solar radiation. DST would provide dates when it could.

Ms Mocumi requested a breakdown of the qualifications, number of students graduating, numbers of South African students, and foreign students, and how many of those graduating were disabled.

Mr Xosa replied that the DST had a very strict policy around bursaries and 90% of funds given should be given to South Africans. He acknowledged that there were benefits in drawing foreign skills to South Africa, but that was kept to a minimum. He promised to provide a detailed breakdown.

Ms S Plaatjie (COPE) asked whether students from the rural areas benefited from bursaries.

Ms Plaatjie noted that experts from outside were doing skills training, and asked if this had resulted now in more local expertise.

Dr Msimang responded that this was a process, and expertise was built over time, and needed continuous updated. Some students had already graduated under those programmes, and two PhD students graduated under the Hydrogen programme, so the DST was beginning to see the fruits of those initiatives.

Ms H Line (ANC) asked for clarification on science and technology having to supply solutions on the demand side, and said that end user habits led to wasted energy.

Dr Msimang responded that the idea was to make the grid more transparent. That was what was currently called ‘smart grid’ technology, where, for instance, it was possible to ascertain, via cellphone, that geysers were on although nobody was at home, and therefore should be switched off. Electricity was expensive, but technology could assist in managing usage, to lessen the costs.

Ms Line also asked whether the DST invested in only its own research projects, or in other research as well.
She asked if students that DST had supported, who had graduated, were still doing research in South Africa, or if they had moved elsewhere.

Ms Line raised the concern that the high school in Carnarvon with the Cyber Lab gave instruction in Afrikaans, yet most universities used English instruction.

Dr Munsami responded that the language issue was the domain of the Department of Education, but the DST could try to ensure that appropriate languages were used.

Ms Z Ndlazi (ANC) asked what could be done to get electricity to the Pondoland areas.

Mr Xosa responded that greater coordination was needed in government. One technology that could be rolled out in remote areas was the Renewable Energy Hybrid System, currently being developed by Durban University of Technology and DST, which specifically targeted how municipalities could be assisted in providing basic necessities. This technology could, for instance, help to pump water and link into community facilities. A list of municipalities had been identified close to the Pondoland area, and DST was deciding which interventions would have the greatest impact. Eskom had been asked what plans it had, to avoid duplication.

Dr Munsami added that the role of DST was to support R&D that led to optimal solutions. The DST ran some of the projects at pilot stage, but once these were demonstrated to work effectively, other line departments would look at a broader implementation. DST had a niche role to play in demonstrating particular technology solutions.

Ms Dunjwa was concerned about the amount of waste that people generated, and asked whether the DST had a programme to assist municipalities to use that waste to generate energy, which could also create employment.

Mr Xosa responded that one of the slides spoke to a Wits University/NECSA initiative where plasma technology was combined with FT technology. There was a focus on converting waste to energy, and this included municipal waste, forestry waste, agricultural waste and others. DST hoped to demonstrate the possibilities, and understood that municipalities had challenges in removal of solid waste. This work would be done in cooperation with other departments, such as Department of Environmental Affairs.

The Chairperson noted that Dr Msimang had said that renewable energy was free, but he thought that it was in fact very expensive to implement, although the source of renewable energy was inexpensive. It was expensive to generate renewable energy and consequently to take it to industrial level scales. He wondered if Dr Msimang was talking of distributable energy resources or distributed energy plants, such as windmills or solar power plants for small communities. It was very important that Dr Msimang differentiate between the source and the energy production.

He added that renewable energy was not always found in pockets. Hydroelectric power generation was run from a renewable source, being water. The 25000 MW plant in China was a huge plant, supplying 60% of China, and this was a renewable energy based plant.

Mr Xosa noted these comments and agreed with the distinction between source and generation.

The Chairperson said that the National Energy Act of 2008 was designed so that all energy activities in South Africa, no matter which institution was attending to them, should be aligned under this Act, so anyone engaging in any programme had to understand its provisions, including those around research. Any Renewable and Efficiency Agency fell under SANEDI, and others were provided for in that Act; people who disregarded the legislation were not doing what they should. He added that DST, in terms of this Act, was not supposed to do the activities itself, but should act as an enabler and knowledge provider for other line departments doing the work.

Mr Xosa acknowledged that the DST respected that Act and the role that the DST was supposed to play. He thought that the Chairperson was implying that the DST should not be doing certain activities, but said that when the Act came into force, there was an understanding of how DST operated in the system, and the differing roles of the different departments. A Strategic Management Model Framework was drawn, which classified science and technology activities into three main categories. DST should lead the first category of “cutting edge” or future science and human capital development. The second category of activities were those led by the sector departments themselves. The third category of activities comprised routine and analytical work, and here DST should look at any gaps and try to advise or facilitate improvements.

The Chairperson said it was very important that the DST did not use its time doing work that was supposed to be done by other line departments. The DST was leading, because it was an energy research department, but must work in terms of the specific guidelines set out by the National Energy Act.

The Chairperson commented that the burden of renewable energy development was very well set out in the National Energy Act, even to the extent of human capital in nuclear energy, renewable energy, and at the South African National Energy Research Institute (SANERI). Wave or water type power could not be studied unless there was a basic understanding of how thermal power stations or hydroelectric power stations worked, and the role of the pumps in generating energy. A study of energy was basic to an understanding of renewable and nuclear energy.

Dr Munsami took the point that the human capital development focus must be on energy, but added that human capital development was not an end in itself, but the means to another end. If the “end point” was established, the human capital development could be targeted to that.

The Chairperson reiterated that a person studying “energy” must study all other forms of energy, so he believed that there should be human capital development in energy technology.

Mr Xosa responded that DST was concerned that not enough prominence was given to renewable energy, nor was renewable energy making a sufficient contribution to the total energy mix, so DST had prioritised that field for support and further R&D. Industry was very biased to use of coal, and only recently had there been consideration of other options. DST needed to ensure that by the time industry started to use these alternative technologies, there was technological expertise available. That was why the DST was trying to  consolidate human capital development initiatives in all energy, to develop a good pipeline of expertise, and it was hoped that as DST started consolidating more, it could offer a broader range of options.

The Chairperson thought Dr Msimang should have said more about DST being the proponent of some of the important initiatives. He noted that Sasol had very important technology for energy saving, called Pinch Technology, and had done significant research, and he urged the DST to liaise with Sasol.

The Chairperson asked what DST’s role was in relation to the solar atlas, currently being developed by CSIR.

Mr Xosa responded that it was clear that South Africa faced a barrier in not having data that was measured on the ground, which investors required. DST was trying to overcome that hurdle and support the line departments. The involvement of the CSIR was part of the bigger group, because DST had a responsibility to assist in coordination of the national systems of innovation, which meant bringing all the other players together, and charting the way forward.

The Chairperson noted that much of the technology had to do with transport, and he pointed out that the Portfolio Committee on Transport had learned a lot from a recent study tour to China. He asked if the DST and Department of Transport were cooperating on transport technology.

Mr Xosa said he would have preferred the relationship to be better. There were Memoranda of Understanding with the Department of Transport, and areas where they collaborated, but the relationship had to be strengthened.

Ms Mocumi referred to a previous presentation, and asked what was being done on the project using chicken and pig manure to produce energy.

Dr Munsami said the University of Fort Hare ran an energy generation infrastructure, using manure to generate energy, and also had food production initiatives.

Mr Martin Mulcahy, Advisor to DST, said that issue was raised during a presentation on socio-economic partnerships, particularly in rural areas. At the time Ms Mocumi had asked how it would be rolled out.

Ms Line reverted to a previous point on language of instruction, and asked that DST should assist, because students from Northern Cape had to undertake bridging courses of a year to bring their language skills up to speed in order to study.

Dr Munsami said the Department supported the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), who had a programme around teaching and learning, and language issues, including throughput from Grade R to the work environment. HSRC was doing research with a view to policy formulation, together with Department of Basic Education.

The Chairperson said SANEDI was also supposed to look at all possible options, and suggested that the DST must look into another form of energy, through hydromagneto-dynamic conductors or generators, which were also used in developed countries.

The Chairperson thanked the Department for constructive interaction, but noted that there was a need to have a joint sitting with the Portfolio Committee on Energy, to achieve greater synergy in terms of the National Energy Act. The interaction was very valuable.

Other Committee business
Ms Shanaaz Isaacs, Committee Secretary, announced the cancellation of the meeting on 14 March.

She noted that a report on the Presidential Review Committee on State Owned Enterprises would need to be adopted on 7 March.

The Chairperson asked that this be circulated, and noted that this document contained recommendations on the funding of State Owned enterprises, and their challenges. HSRC had complained about its governing legislation and the position of the boards of the entities needed to be aligned.

The Secretary and the Chairperson discussed the arrangements for the Committee Week of 19 to 23 March,
Ms Line suggested that Ms Isaacs take the resolution from previous meetings where the public entities were discussed,.

Ms Isaacs continued that the week of 19 – 23 March was now a Committee week, but the Committee was awaiting a response to a request for a study tour to China in that period.

The Committee had been invited to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of relations between RSA and Bulgaria.

The Portfolio Committee on Agriculture had invited this Committee to attend a presentation on genetically modified organisms.

The meeting was adjourned.


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