Experts to put climate change under microscope at PE conference

Xolisa Phillip

SCIENCE and business’s answers to one of the most pressing questions of this era, climate change, are on the agenda this month in Port Elizabeth.

The World Economic Forum’s Global Risk Report 2014 lists climate change as one of its top-10 key issues.

The topic will come under the microscope in the coming week when two of the world’s foremost experts on solar energy will share their ideas and research at the second Southern African Solar Energy Conference (Sasec 2014) in Port Elizabeth.

Science and Technology Minister Derek Hanekom will deliver the opening address at the event, which starts on Monday.

Solar energy researchers, engineers, technologists and individuals will exchange ideas and discuss developments.

Founding president of the German Energy Storage Association and winner of the SolarWorld Einstein Award Professor Eicke Weber will share his expertise.

So will director for international business development at Abengoa Solar Dr Michael Geyer.

Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University’s (NMMU) Professor Ernest van Dyk, of the Centre for Renewable Energy, said: “The conference will provide a wonderful opportunity for the South African solar energy community to share [ideas] with other specialists from around the world.”

In the same week, the university will hold an inaugural public showing of its algae- to-energy technology.

The method, which has been developed at the institution over the past three years under the auspices of the Science and Technology Department, has also been used to produce aviation bio-fuel.

The top 10 risks facing the world are: fiscal crises in key economies; structurally high unemployment/underemployment; water crises; income disparity; failure of climate change mitigation and adaptation; greater incidence of extreme weather events; global governance failure; food crises; failure of a major financial mechanism/institution; and profound political and social instability.

Meanwhile, the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality has entered into a R2.3-million partnership with Pioneer Foods that focuses on greening solutions and job creation in poverty-stricken areas.

Elsewhere in the country, leading physicists and engineers from South Africa and around the world will converge on Wits University next week to workshop one of the biggest challenges all scientists face this century: how to deal with big data output?