Time 'right' for SA renewable energy

2011-08-17 18:05
Cape Town - The time is ripe for SA to invest more heavily in infrastructure, plants, skills development, and maintenance in the renewable energy sector, DuPont sub-Saharan Africa Regional Director Carlman Moyo said.

The debate around fracking for shale gas in the Karoo once again firmly highlighted the importance for SA to source viable natural energy, he said in a statement.

While energy sources such as shale gas - whereby the process utilised other natural resources such as water - were currently being explored, natural clean sources such as solar energy were not yet being used effectively and were potentially a much cheaper and abundant source of energy for South Africa's commercial and residential markets.

"With the cost of electricity currently on the rise, now is the time for South Africa to invest more heavily in infrastructure, plants, skills development and maintenance in the renewable energy sector to position the country as a leader in Africa's renewable energy solutions," he said.

Collaboration between the private sector and government around adopting renewable energy was a fundamental enabler to progress on the continent.

Government subsidies

"Investment in the sector will also put South Africa at the heart of the global drive to source energy requirements from renewable sources and will build a sustainable energy base, thereby reducing the country's dependence on fossil fuels."

Solar power currently relied on government subsidies to make it competitive with fossil fuels and cuts in renewable energy subsidies in key European markets had put pressure on the global industry to improve the technology and reduce costs.

Government's recently unveiled integrated resource plan (IRP) intended to see the country obtaining 9% of its energy from renewable sources by 2030 was a step in the right direction.

"As a developing country we need to push hard to shift the focus away from traditional fossil fuels that are finite and take a lead on the African continent for the use of renewable forms of energy," Moyo said.

Recent technological developments in the field of solar power reaffirmed the potential and viability of this energy source as one of the most viable forms of renewable energy for the country.

"Currently around 90% of the industry uses crystalline silicon technology, but we believe that the second generation of photovoltaic technology provides higher efficiency under diffuse lighting conditions and performs better in hotter temperatures, making it better suited for the African region and is likely to drive further demand for solar energy in the future.

"The solar energy market is rapidly growing globally and our challenge from an innovation perspective is to continue to broaden our portfolio of photovoltaic solutions locally to meet the needs of the commercial and consumer markets," Moyo said.
- SAPA
Read more on:    solar power  |  climate change
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