Renewable energy, plus gas, can meet South Africa's future energy needs – Greenpeace

16th May 2018 By: Rebecca Campbell - Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

The current and any future investment in coal-fired power stations violates the people's right to a clean environment, affirmed Greenpeace (South Africa) senior climate and energy campaign manager Melita Steele on Wednesday. She was addressing the National Nuclear Regulator's second Nuclear Regulatory Information Conference.

"Climate change is something we have to take seriously," she cautioned. The country simply could not afford expensive, dirty and dangerous electricity generation as part of its energy mix.

"We don't have a mix at the moment," because 85% of the country's electricity comes from coal, she highlighted. Relying so much on coal was "deeply problematic".

National electricity utility Eskom used 10 000 litres of water a second to keep its coal fired power stations running, she pointed out. "We are seeing the end of the whole megaproject era. ... Eskom's business model doesn't work anymore."

"What we need is smaller, more flexible investments. Greenpeace does not believe that IPP [the current independent (renewable) power producer programme] is the solution." This is because there needs to be more variety in the renewable energy sources used in the country.

There is, she stated, no rational reason to put artificial restraints on renewable energy. Yet such restraints now existed in South Africa.

"New renewables are cheaper than new coal and new nuclear,"stated Steele. Renewables, plus gas-powered power stations for baseload electricity, would meet the needs of the country's national grid. Concerning the hopefully upcoming new Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), she observed that "[c]ivil society can and will challenge an irrational IRP".