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A Strategic Approach to South Africa’s Energy Transition

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South Africas Energy Transition by Nhlanhla Mazibuko

As per the Ministry of Mineral Resources and Energy, South Africa’s total domestic electricity generation capacity stands at 58,095 megawatts (MW) from diverse sources. However, when we contrast this with other nations’ solar photovoltaic capacity alone, the figures are telling: China at 414.5MW, the United States at 141.5MW, Japan at 84.7MW, India at 79MW, and Germany at 66.7MW (as per Remarkably, all these countries surpass South Africa’s total power capacity solely from solar photovoltaic sources. What’s striking is that even with Germany’s less intense sunlight compared to South Africa’s, we seem to be lagging in embracing renewable energy.

The core issue lies in our government’s approach to our energy transition. Here’s a proposed solution:

Optimize Existing Coal Power Stations: Ensure efficient operation of all coal power stations to maintain a stable power supply during the transition phase. (basically, do proper maintenance to our existing fleet and stop all the criminality happening with the national power producer).

Invest in Diverse Renewable Projects: Initiate both large-scale and small-scale projects focusing on solar, wind, and other viable renewable energy solutions within our borders.

Transition Gradually: As renewable energy sources generate surplus power, gradually decommission older coal power stations to reduce reliance on fossil fuels.

Implement Carbon Capture Technology: Retrofit newer coal power stations with carbon capture technology to mitigate harmful emissions at the source. Utilize captured carbon for beneficial applications like soda carbonate production and promoting plant growth.

In summary, a strategic energy transition plan for South Africa involves maintaining current coal operations while concurrently investing in a diverse portfolio of renewable energy sources. Gradually phasing out older coal stations, introducing carbon capture technology, and utilizing captured carbon for productive purposes can pave the way for a sustainable future. Contrary to the current governmental approach of decoupling and restructuring Eskom, this proposed strategy aims to benefit both the populace and the environment.

Other sources: Mazibuko Energy, Department of Energy

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