Durban - Several companies have cashed in on the climate change conference in Durban to promote power-generating gadgets friendly to the environment.

They had their hands full on Monday as people attending the two-week long 17th Conference of Parties (Cop17) enquired how the gadgets worked.

Massive exhibition tents have been erected just a stone’s throw away from Durban’s Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre where thousands of Cop17 delegates are discussing how to reduce emissions which cause climate change.

“I amazed to see the number of environmentally-friendly equipment. This shows that we can do more to save the environment from the effects of climate change,” said delegate Lucas Langa.

Heavy equipment on exhibition included the Renault-Nissan Alliance electric cars, called “Leaf”, which were available for environmental activists to test drive. The cars are powered by renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power.

Leaf product manager Ross Garvie said Nissan had sold more than 20,000 of them on three continents.

“We need to have infrastructure before it is launched in South Africa. We are expecting government incentives such as lower import duties before we introduce it in South Africa,” he said.

Instead of having petrol tanks, the cars have batteries charged by electricity. They can go as fast as 145 kilometres an hour and can travel 170 kilometres after charging.

The world’s only electric Porsche, the 997 Carrera with a top speed of 220km/h, also caught people’s eyes. It has a Siemens electric motor.

Unlike the Renault-Nissan Alliance electric cars, the Porsche was not available for test driving.

Another exciting environment-friendly device was the fax and printer that operates independently of the electricity grid. The producers say it can help many sub-Saharan African schools which have no power.

In South Africa alone, more than 3000 schools have no access to electricity. This means that they are unable to print or receive faxes.

The Risola System uses soya-based ink and it is capable of printing 90 pages per hour.

“We believe this technology will help rural schools. The department of education saw it and they are very interested,” said Risola System spokeswoman, Sonia Anderson. - Sapa