NRF CEO's Message

Renewable energy occupies a critical space in South Africa’s energy mix and has prominence, through the Energy Grand Challenge, in the Department of Science and Technology’s Ten-year Innovation Plan. Broadly acknowledged is the crucial role that renewable energy plays and will continue to play on our path to fulfil the vision of transforming South Africa into a knowledge economy and society. 

Leading the charge towards the transformation of South Africa into a knowledge economy is central to the mandate of the National Research Foundation (NRF) which speaks to the promotion and support of knowledge creation, human and institutional capacity development in order to facilitate innovation and development. This mandate explains the NRF’s drive, through the provision of research grants and scholarships, to nurture and develop young talent so that they may become the next generation of knowledge workers in our National System of Innovation. 

It is likely that some of the future researchers and academics will come from the young people who will form the hub of the Renewable Energy Postgraduate Forum (REPS2016). These postgraduate Master’s and Doctoral students represent a cross-section of demographics and renewable energy foci including solar, wind, hydrogen, ocean and bio-energy research and will be presenting their work to an audience of academics, government, industry and members of the public. 

It is indeed worth noting that the REPS2016 is taking place at the University of Fort Hare, which celebrates it centenary this year. Fort Hare is a university with a rich tapestry of great icons in South African history. These are individuals who left indelible footprints on campus and in our history books. They significantly influenced our path to achieving a democratic South Africa. The postgraduate students at REPS2016 are, therefore, in an ideal setting for them to share with the gathered research community their endeavours in making their marks on our road to an energy secure South Africa whose economy is based on knowledge creation and the exploitation of that knowledge. 

Similarly, the 320 learners and educators from the high schools surrounding the University of Fort Hare and, indeed, all of the industry representatives, will be exposed to the physical exhibitions of the renewable energy research outputs funded by government, and will learn about the renewable energy educational material developed, and, I hope, will leave with renewed energy.

I am confident that the REPS2016, through its various offerings, will inspire debates, create networking opportunities and raise questions which require further exploration. I wish all the organisers, delegates and students well over the three days of the REPS2016 conference.

 

Dr. Molapo Qobela

Chief Executive Officer

National Research Foundation