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Renewable energy for South Africa – cost-efficient and quick – forget coal and nuclear

Global advances in renewable energy sector should halt SA’s rush to nuclear, Let’s avoid any major financial and technological disasters such as Medupi and Kusile happening again Business Live  17 JUNE 2020 ,  COLIN WOOD  SA is once again on the cusp of another major electricity production decision. We had better get this one right. Mineral resources & energy minister Gwede Mantashe recently announced that the government is pressing ahead with a nuclear build programme for SA as early as 2024. This despite ample reported evidence that renewables, particularly solar, can be built both rapidly and cost effectively in incremental amounts up to the scale envisaged (2,500MW) to closely match any supply/demand curve.

It is therefore of some concern that those major companies in SA that have been interfacing with the renewables fraternity for their internal electricity production will respond to the one month deadline to raise reservations in a responsible manner with sound factual numbers. We certainly need to avoid any major financial and technological disasters such as Medupi and Kusile  happening again.

The coming decade looks set to become a golden one for renewables globally and could well cement their position irreversibly as the way forward for a threefold purpose: global electricity needs, containing the global temperature rise, and avoiding the drastic climate change…….

The good news is that the driver for electricity production through renewables is no longer climate change but economics. A recent announcement of the lowest competitive tariff globally for a large-scale solar PV (photovoltaic) project in Abu Dhabi certainly illustrates this. It particularly signals the resetting of economies after the Covid-19 lockdown, especially in terms of any incremental increase in the supply/demand curve  going forward.

Most significantly, the rapid construction capability of small- to large-scale renewable technologies avoids the long lead times of the large-scale fossil fuel and nuclear projects, with their difficult financial funding constraints. In addition, it shows that matching the supply/demand curve is relatively straightforward.

With favourable economics as the driver, this raises the issue of stranded assets. Increased reporting on the abandonment of coal plants has become relevant. The stranded asset value of fossil fuel electricity production, explained in a recent Cambridge Econometrics paper in Nature Climate Change, is said to be in the range $1-trillion to $4-trillion. Big numbers. …….

For SA, renewables would surely  help overcome load-shedding and the planned closure of our ageing coal fleet. However, the political opposition to significant introduction of renewables capacity (by trade unions) could well be a limitation for this route………. https://www.businesslive.co.za/bd/opinion/2020-06-17-global-advances-in-renewable-energy-sector-should-halt-sas-rush-to-nuclear/

June 18, 2020 - Posted by | renewable, South Africa

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