The” new dawn” is currently under a dark cloud casted by the Minister of energy Jeff Radebe. The Minister is supporting a primitive concept of building two new coal-power stations. Thus, the country’s fossil fuel dependency will be prolonged. The absurd part is that the current coal-power stations produce more than sufficient electricity supply. Numerous viable alternatives are available that are in accordance with the country’s commitment to the united nation’s framework on climate change to improve our energy system.
South Africa hosted COP17 in Durban as a member state of the UNFCCC. Thereafter came COP21 which was held in Paris, There an agreement was made that Parties to the UNFCCC signed an Agreement, which promised to keep the global temperature rise below 2°C above pre-industrial levels. The two new additional coal-power stations will contribute a significant increase of carbon dioxide (CO2) in to the greenhouse effect. This will be detrimental to our efforts to honour the COP21 agreement.
A plan that is more consistent with our commitment to reduce our carbon footprint is to invest more aggressively into renewable energy. The renewable energy that South Africa is geographically eligible to take advantage of is wind and solar. Wind farms generate energy by employing giant turbines to capture the kinetic energy of wind, and often delivered to the power grid by utility companies. Wind power is seen to improve air quality and public health. South Africa has not tapped fully into the potential of this power source.
Solar energy comes from the sun in the form of solar radiation, which must be converted directly or indirectly into electricity or other usable forms of energy. Both solar thermal and solar photovoltaic (PV) methods can be used on a large scale by utilities to generate power for the electric grid or on a small scale to generate supplemental electricity for homes, schools, and businesses.
There is a project/Company on solar energy called Solar City, which was founded by South African born and raised now residing in the U.S.A Elon Musk. Solar city has products that enable a household to run entirely on solar energy. A normal house is equipped with solar roof panels, which absorb the solar rays and convert them in to heat energy or divert them to a transformer, which will transform the solar energy in to electricity. The excess electrical energy can be stored in a storage battery thus enabling storage for when the weather limits supply of solar energy.
Elon musk has made a claim in an interview in Asia that his company solar city can transform a country as big as china, which has the highest population in the world, to run entirely from the energy supplied by the sun. Therefore implementing such a change in a small country like South Africa should not be an impossible task. All that will be need is a complete commitment from government to reform the country’s energy system.
Building two-coal power stations has an estimate cost of 10 billion each. Diverting that budget to solar energy would not only be a good start but a move into the right direction to a sustainable environment. The community would perpetually benefit too. The project would result in job creation by construction and maintenance; less expenditure to run the system compared to fossil fuel and the environment would be cleaner thus, it would be healthier for the community.
A new dawn is not only about fixing the dark period of the “regression” of an ethical government or the country’s economy. The future requires visionary leadership not only of the president but also the structure under the president. South Africa cannot afford to make economically and environmentally costly mistakes. The right projects need to be funded and the right project is renewable energy not fossil fuels (Coal power station).