The problem with the shift from coal power generation to something that has less emissions such as renewables (i.e. solar, wind & hydro), nuclear or hydrogen is that we all can’t agree which is the best option.
In a recent Directors Event by Sunday Times a committee of five professionals discussed “How do we manage climate change to become self-sufficient?”. While the conversation went a number of directions, the one thing I picked up is that everyone sees solutions to climate change in South Africa through their own lens.
A Sasol representative believes in renewables but also the use of hydrogen, which the company produces. Then the Chairman of the South African Nuclear Energy Corporation SOC Limited (NECSA) says nuclear is the way to go because it’s the cheapest option today and is proven around the world.
The same went for everyone, the solution is based on what seems to be the most profitable to the person and has a larger possibility to bring gains to their corporations.
While I might be in clean mobility, energy generation is not an industry I’m in but there’s no doubt that the best option does seem to be renewables and more so solar for a dry sunny country like South Africa.
The problem with solar today is not being able to supply power when it’s needed it the most, peak times which are in the evening and the sun is not shining then. So what’s the solution? Well, that’s simple, battery storage, building a working solar generation system will require us to have microgrids that make use of battery storage, save up all the solar power received during the day and use it up at night during peak times.
This is starting to work in a number of states in the U.S and while solar panels are reasonably priced right now, the main holdup is battery prices which have dropped 87% from $1,100/kWh in 2010 to $156/kWh in 2019. With demand from home and vehicle energy storage we can expect the price to drop further through economies of scale.
With affordable solar panels and reasonably priced batteries for energy storage, we will be able to manage climate change and become self-sufficient.