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South Africa needs skilled clean energy workers

Renewable energy has considerable potential in South Africa over fossil fuels. For instance, the country has an abundance of sunshine – over 2,500 hours per year, according to the government. Wind energy – both inland and around coastal areas – is another resource that has potential to be a big part of the country's clean energy mix.

If these kinds of resources are to be harnessed, however, a trained and skilled workforce is needed.

The South African Renewable Energy Technology Center (SARETEC) is looking to bolster the country's clean energy ambitions by creating a skilled workforce for the renewable energy industry. Based in Cape Town, SARETEC describes itself as being South Africa's "first national renewable energy technology center."

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Nardus Engelbrecht | Gallo Images | Getty Images

"SARETEC is going to be providing the skills that… (are) required in order to run these power plants, these renewable energy power plants," Naim Rassool, managing director at SARETEC, told CNBC's Sustainable Energy.

"SARETEC has been specifically designed and set up to do that on a world-class level," Rassool added.

"And it is not only about looking at wind and solar, but also looking at all other forms of renewable energy generation."

In drawing up its training program, SARETEC is open to a whole range of ideas.

"What we've done here, is we've modeled so well on what has been around overseas already, which is proven curriculums and proven processes," Sven Pietrangeli, operations manager at SARETEC, said.

"Our main goal at this point is to create enough trust, so that people trust what happens here, trust what we train, and know that when they employ an individual they're getting a certain product at a certain standard, that this individual can fulfill their role properly and safely," Pietrangeli added.

Susana de Jager is one person to have directly benefited from the program, and is involved in work on a wind farm.

"SARETEC gives the local people an opportunity to get a qualification that they can use in their own country, working on automated big machinery, big fields," she said.

"If you can use local people to do a good job with good payment I think it will be very good for South Africa and the growth of the wind industry," she went on to add.