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The numbers….don’t add up

The Editor muses

NUMBERS from Eskom that it needs 53GW of renewable power over the next ten years, might be quantumly correct, but even if we plump for the biggest capacity wind turbines currently around 6MW, we would need more than 9 000 to fill the gap, so long as the wind blows.

If one went the solar farm route – the biggest yet on South African soil is 175MW – probably 160MW in truth, then the acreage would be enormous as we would need north of 360 such stations to meet the target.

To handle and distribute all this extra power will require 14 200km of new high voltage lines and 170 additional transformers.

Whichever way you slice and dice the renewables cake, wind and solar are NOT going to crack it, and there is really no prospect of hydro coming to the rescue either, as our geography isn’t conducive. (But wait, there’s Inga in the DRC! Yeah, right.)

If we discount nuclear, and it makes absolutely no sense to do so, especially small modular reactors – like the ones that have been powering ships and submarines for the past 60 years – then, if coal is off the table there is only one answer, natural gas, and by all accounts, we have an abundance both onshore and offshore which our neighbours are busy exploiting in their own back yards.

Elsewhere in this edition you’ll read an opinion piece from NJ Ayuk, the Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber entitled: How domestic gas production can help mitigate SA’s energy crisis. 

I hope the powers that be read it too and then get their skates on to create the necessary regulatory framework to make gas to power a reality and with it a climate that will attract investors to participate in the creation of a downstream industry that will not only keep the lights on, create thousands of jobs, and through CNC, (Compressed Natural Gas) reduce the transport sector’s reliance on imported diesel with the knock on benefit to the environment.

Yes, natural gas is a fossil fuel, but it emits far less harmful greenhouse and other gases than coal or diesel.

We all want a habitable planet for future generations but there is no Utopia and the sooner the environmental groups that believe wind and solar will solve our energy crisis compromise on a gas to power alternative, the sooner the country can start digging itself out of the hole it has created for itself. 

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