South Africa is well situated and endowed with renewable energy resources such as direct solar radiation; ocean energy; wind energy; and, to a lesser extent, arable land for the cultivation of bio-energy feedstock. There are also a number of high profile, technologically advanced projects in the country that demonstrate the capabilities of the scientists and engineers trained at South African universities.

The Postgraduate Programme in Renewable and Sustainable Energy Studies was subsequently established in 2006 and is currently funded by the Department of Science and Technology (DST). The hub of the Programme is in the Faculty of Engineering at Stellenbosch University in collaboration with other departments and institutes within the University structure, as well as the Sustainability Institute (SI), which is based at Lynedoch outside Stellenbosch. The Centre for Renewable and Sustainable Energy Studies (CRSES) was formed to execute the mandate of the Programme:

“The primary objective of the Postgraduate Programme in Renewable and Sustainable Energy Studies at Stellenbosch University is to train scientists and engineers. These professionals will have the required technical expertise to unlock the country’s renewable energy resources by implementing appropriate technology for sustainable energy utilisation”.

The Programme contributes to the need to support the development of a vibrant renewable and sustainable energy (RSE) industry in South Africa through the training of engineers and scientists, providing fundamental and applied research support to industry, and identifying opportunities and priorities in renewable and sustainable energy. In so doing, the Programme also contributes to the coordination of the national postgraduate training and research efforts in RSE.

The outcome of this Programme will be that a number of the underutilised RSE resources in the country will be unlocked by the technical expertise and innovation of South African scientists and engineers. Apart from the socio-economic benefits of a vibrant RSE industry for South Africa, the diversification of the nation’s energy supply through a stake in renewable energy technology development and implementation in the post fossil-fuel 21st century is urgently required. This effort will be of value not only to South Africa, but also the rest of the continent and the world.

The staff complement of CRSES, with its collaborators and supported students, ensure that mandate of the Programme is met under the guidance of a three-level management structure:

  • A strategic Advisory Board;
  • A controlling Management Board; and
  • An executing Executive Committee.

Further information is provided in a five-year strategic plan.