Energy transition implications highlighted at SA Auto Week

12th October 2023 By: Sabrina Jardim - Creamer Media Online Writer

Energy transition implications highlighted at SA Auto Week

Amid local energy constraints and a global focus on increasing renewable energy capacity, the importance of ensuring that proper planning is implemented as South Africa transitions to cleaner energy was highlighted during a roundtable discussion at this year’s South African (SA) Auto Week, hosted by naamsa | The Automotive Business Council, in Johannesburg, from October 11 to 13.

During the discussion, a need to diversify the energy mix as well as ensure a stable baseload energy supply was discussed, with South African Nuclear Energy Corporation CEO Loyiso Tyabashe arguing that nuclear energy could contribute towards a diversified energy mix.

“I want to believe that if you have nuclear, you have hit the bull's eye or the centre of the energy trilemma; that you have reliable energy; you have economical energy. Nuclear energy is the cheapest in this country,” he said, adding that nuclear energy was often demonised in South Africa.

To this end, he highlighted the importance of implementing initiatives to foster a better understanding of nuclear technology, noting that, in addition to providing carbon-free energy, implementing nuclear energy could also aid the just transition by creating employment opportunities as new plants were built.

Adding to the discussion on environmental, social and corporate governance, Energy Council of South Africa senior manager Victor Sibiya explained that decreasing carbon emissions and ensuring that communities had access to clean and secure energy were relevant aspects to consider in the transition.

Hence, it is necessary to consider the impact of the energy transition on jobs in sectors such as coal mining.

“We need to work in a coordinated fashion so that we ensure that no one is left behind. While we [are] busy pushing government to put necessary policies and plans in place, we need to make sure that we are also preparing people for the new jobs that will be created,” he said.

In this vein, State-owned Transnet renewable energy sector specialist Amanda Makgoga noted that the State-owned entity had renewable energy projects in place to help lower its carbon emissions.

Transnet is also looking at tapping into hydrogen and liquefied natural gas to further enable economic growth.

With regard to funding renewable energy projects, Standard Bank power, corporate and investment banking head Rentia van Tonder explained that financial institutions acted as growth drivers in the sector, noting that an investment of about R200-billion had been provided to utility-scale independent power producers in South Africa to date.

“…Financiers are definitely playing a leading role in trying to unlock growth and development… looking at how the market is emerging and how we see regulatory reform of the power sector and how do we adapt to be able to support that growing opportunity.”