Although mini electrical grids aren’t widely used in Southern Africa, a pilot project outside Cape Town is testing if these can be a financially sustainable off-grid way to address energy poverty here, writes Leonie Joubert.
The South African government’s renewable energy grid expansion has been outsourced to the private sector. A key part of this public-private partnership is that the companies assigned to do the ‘new build’ must also engage in much-needed community development work, writes Leonie Joubert.
The price of solar and wind energy has dropped so dramatically in South Africa (SA), it is now almost half the cost of coal electricity. So why is government’s new energy plan biased towards expensive nuclear plants, and leaving renewable sources as an afterthought? asks Leonie Joubert. If RE industrialisation doesn’t take off in SA, it will be slow across the rest of the subcontinent.
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.