British PM Theresa May gives $72m for battery storage technology in South Africa


As part of her trip to South Africa to deepen the UK’s business, trading, diplomatic and research partnerships with the country, the Prime Minister set out a more than £56 million ($72 million) contribution through the Clean Technology Fund to a $500 million investment in battery storage developed by the World Bank and the African Development Bank in partnership with the government of South Africa, fast-tracking the region’s access to clean energy.

Battery storage involves storing electricity so that it can be used later- important in filling in the gaps when its overcast or no wind. These batteries are a very real alternative to fossil fuels like coal and gas, making energy supply secure.

As part of her 3-day visit, the Prime Minister has also announced new projects that will develop closer research ties to help transform local economies by improving harvesting techniques and developing healthcare technologies.

According to Business Secretary Greg Clark,” Investing in research, developing the skills of tomorrow, and tackling the global threat of climate change are key commitments of this government and are at the core of our modern Industrial Strategy. Science and innovation has no borders with many of the best discoveries being international partnerships and collaborations. These initiatives will deepen our ties in these important areas with our African partners for years to come.”

Through its Industrial Strategy Grand Challenges, this project will use an innovative technology to transform the country’s energy system, supporting South Africa’s long-term commitment to decreasing carbon emissions by developing bold, new renewable technologies – bringing about a climate revolution whilst also enabling the creation of thousands of jobs for young South Africans.

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During her trip to South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya, the Prime Minister announced a new phase of the UK’s support to the Development in Africa with Radio Astronomy (DARA) partnership. This new £3.7 million investment will fund training for 35 students to PhD and Masters level. It will see a new generation of radio astronomers develop their skills into other big data areas, helping develop and improve ways of managing land to help with harvests, as well as targeted health service provision so more people across Africa get the right treatments at the right time.

AI and big data is at the heart of the government’s modern Industrial Strategy and through the Artificial Intelligence Grand Challenge the government has recognised the potential opportunities that big data and AI could bring to the global economy, increasing productivity and delivering high value jobs.

Young minds across Africa hold the key to discovering brilliant, new solutions to the world’s challenges, and to maximising exciting opportunities for both British and African young people. This is why the UK is working with, and supporting the development of, the brightest research, academic and science talent from across Africa. Global Britain’s world-class offer in science, innovation and research can take these partnerships to the next level.

Showcasing the UK’s expertise in low carbon innovation, the government also today announced the next phase of the UK-Nigeria Climate Finance Accelerator. The initiative matches government, project developers, finance market players from Nigeria, with experts in climate finance and investment in green projects from the City of London. The UK can share expertise with Nigeria on how to invest in green projects, from increasing the country’s renewable capacity to improving the resilience of food chains.

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Funding has also been granted to nine projects to develop food security through joint research. The work will focus on improving African farming systems and developing sustainable agriculture. Resolving some of the threats to produce include looking to the benefits of grass pea in drought-prone environments and using natural pest regulation to ensure the successful harvest of legumes.

As well as this, the government has committed £1.5 million to a new research fund to help African researchers study the effects of climate change and explore climate issues that are most important to them and their own countries.