With Rio+20 around the corner, the buzz word is sustainable energy. One might wonder why sustainable energy? Are there not bigger problems such as food insecurity, housing or unemployment? Why the fuss about energy and the way it is produced? This is because there is no sustainable development without sustainable energy.
Environmental organisation, Greenpeace, has demanded that the government halts all discussions aimed at expanding nuclear power production in South Africa.
The organisation states that its activists blockaded the premises of the Industrial Development Corporation where the conference on 'Nuclear Power's Future for Africa' was underway.
The organisation’s anti-nuclear campaigner, Ferrial Adam, has been quoted as saying that, "If you have a combination and a proper mix of energy with solar and wind, you don't have to get stuck on having a large base load."
Three blades - each the length of a tennis court - revolve atop a wind energy tower reaching 50 metres into the sky, equal in height to a 17-storey building. There are four such turbines whirling in the hot, dry and windy landscape near Darling, a town in the Western Cape, generating seven gigawatt hours of green energy per year. This first commercial wind farm in South Africa (SA), reflecting the collaborative efforts of international donors, government agencies and the private sector, shows that wind energy is feasible.
Renewable energy is past the point of no return and will be accessible at a lower cost than traditional sources, according to Herman Oelsner.
Oelsner, who is the president of the Africa Wind Energy Association, points out that the financial crisis in Europe and the United States as well as political upheaval in North Africa, deterred some from travelling there.
South Africa has long relied on coal to produce cheap electricity - or what we were led to believe was cheap electricity. This cheap, but dirty fossil fuel has driven our country’s economy for many decades, and has, alongside this development, created many thousands of jobs both in the mining and energy sector. Our power production and supply has largely been in the hands of Eskom, as a state-owned utility, and we have relied on this large entity to supply our power.
A draft United Nations (UN) report shows that renewable energies such as wind or solar power are set to surge by 2050, and expected advances in technology will bring significant cost cuts.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says in the draft that, “The cost of most renewable energy technologies has declined, and significant additional technical advancements are expected.”
The National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA) is set to approve the second phase of the renewable energy feed-in tariff guidelines this week.
The approved guidelines will indicate the extent to which NERSA has accommodated the renewable energy industry’s concerns which were raised at public hearings earlier this year. The guidelines are a vital cog in efforts to stimulate investment in renewable energy as they provide regulatory certainty and an incentive to invest.