One-half of South Africa’s electricity generation could come from renewable energy sources by 2030, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) said in a new report on Tuesday.
“Renewable energy is not just an environmental issue anymore. It is about assessing the health of our economy going forward,” said WWF climate change programme manager Richard Worthington.
He said that reaching the 50% renewable energy target by 2030 was distinctly feasible, despite the country’s heavy reliance on coal to produce electricity, and added that it was necessary to ensure low-carbon reindustrialisation, which would be required under emission reduction commitments in the climate change arena.
The report, entitled ‘Renewable energy in a just transition to sustainable electricity supply’, argued that South Africa had the potential to rapidly upscale its use of renewable energy, and with a combination of energy-efficiency measures, this would result in cheaper electricity over the medium term.
The report also introduced the sustainable national accessible power planning (Snapp) tool, which was commissioned by the WWF, and was freely available on the Internet. The Snapp tool allowed for interrogation of government’s proposed energy plan, and allowed for the modelling of different energy scenarios, depending on the different inputs made.
The WWF noted that the report aimed at encouraging broad stakeholder participation in South Africa’s policy processes that were currently under way, such as the development of a provisional integrated resource plan, dubbed IRP2010, as well as the review of the renewable energy policy and targets. Both were due by November 2010.
“South Africa faces critical choices around future power generation. The need for increased electricity capacity to meet development objectives coincides with growing awareness of the short-term and long-term implications these decisions will have on the economy, society and the environment,” Worthington stated.
The WWF was also advocating that the construction of Kusile, Eskom’s coal-fired power station to be built after the Medupi power station, be stopped. “At least until the full costs and impacts have been properly evaluated in the Integrated Energy Planning process scheduled for 2011,” said the WWF.
“How we meet baseload demand is ultimately a product of how the whole electricity supply system is designed and managed, in conjunction with demand management measures, and should be addressed through comprehensive integrated energy planning. Insisting that a particular type of generation plant, such as nuclear, is essential to meeting baseload demand is an anachronism,” emphasised the report.