This year, the South African government has the chance to set in place the kind of policy environment that will incubate local manufacturers and encourage foreign investment in the renewable energy sector here. But if the current draft policy is approved, it will create market uncertainty and drive investors away, writes Leonie Joubert.
South Africa is half way into a program that will see 96 privately owned and run utility-scale renewable energy plants built across the country. The project has been hailed for the speed of its rollout, its transparency, and for bringing the cost of solar and wind power down to well below that of new-build coal or nuclear. Already, the first plants are feeding at least a third of the project’s intended energy contribution into the grid. So why has the planned construction on the last few plants ground unexpectedly to a halt? Leonie Joubert asks.
Meeting South Africa’s household energy needs is not just about having access to the grid, or a suite of renewable technologies on hand. It requires tackling the roots of poverty in one of the most unequal societies in the world, writes Leonie Joubert.
South Africa shows how quick an energy transition can be. In four years, with coal and nuclear power stations on hold, South Africa’s renewable energy program has nearly 100 plants in development. Leonie Joubert takes an in-depth look.
Liquid fuel refining is big in South Africa, but it comes with a formidable carbon footprint. Local engineers are looking at how to turn the waste byproduct of our coal power stations into the source material to make fuel for cars and planes that will shrink the sector’s carbon footprint, writes Leonie Joubert.
With more and more renewable plants feeding South Africa’s electricity grid, battery storage may hold the key to bridging over those moments when the sun doesn’t shine or the wind doesn’t blow. But for now, batteries are imported, and expensive, writes Leonie Joubert.
Solar water heaters, or biofuel-powered public buses, or any other low-carbon solution isn’t going to install itself or switch itself on. Without visionary thinkers to champion the cause, without people to plan for business-unusual and craft the regulations that’ll make it easier to implement, Southern Africa’s cities won’t evolve into the energy-smart, carbon-friendly engine rooms that they must become, writes Leonie Joubert.
South Africa’s utility-scale renewable energy programme has opened up the local energy sector to international markets. The success of this funding and procurement model is now tweaking interest in other areas in the local energy sector, and shaping how neighbouring countries might tackle big green-energy projects, writes Leonie Joubert.
If Africa wants to realise its ambitions of a Cape-to-Cairo trade route of bankable renewable energy suppliers, it’s going to need political will that crosses national borders. Last month, the southern continent’s economic bloc SADC announced that it is on track to launch its regional renewable energy strategy next year, writes Leonie Joubert.
Finding ways to cook in Southern Africa informal cityscapes – ways that are safe, reliable, affordable, and low-carbon – means trying low-tech energy efficient methods, municipalities supporting a switch to cleaner fuels, and protecting people from dangerous and cheap paraffin stoves. Science writer Leonie Joubert takes a look.