Importance of sustainable energy underlined

22nd September 2021 By: Tasneem Bulbulia - Creamer Media Reporter

In dealing with its current energy crisis, South Africa must ensure that it shores up reliable short- and long-term supply options that adhere to sustainable energy objectives.   

This was indicated by speakers on the first day of the eleventh yearly Sustainability Summit on September 21, during the Sustainable Energy Seminar in partnership with DNG Energy.

World Nuclear Association senior communication manager Jonathan Cobb indicated that there was a global need to increase energy generation, but emphasised that in aiming to provide reliable supply, cognisance had to be paid to climate change, with the world no longer in a position of “trying to avoid it, but rather, trying to stop the worst effects”.

Therefore, emissions need to be cut globally, he emphasised. Cobb said that while this could be done, it required commitment, and pursuing all available options. He commiserated on the lack of progress over the last 20 years, with fossil fuels still constituting “far too much” of the energy mix. 

South African National Energy Development Institute centre manager Dr Karen Surridge-Talbot said that sustainable energy for the country would be part of a balanced blend of energy, which would engender energy security.

By blending fossil fuels, nuclear and renewables, technology can be used to allow fossil fuels to be used responsibly, she indicated.

South African Nuclear Energy Corporation chairperson David Nicholls indicated that sustainable energy should be both environmentally and economically sustainable.

Council for Scientific and Industrial Research Energy Centre head Dr Clinton Carter-Brown indicated that the conversation around sustainable energy had shifted over the past few years, owing to considerable strides in new technological developments in renewable energy, batteries, fuel cells, hydrogen and the green economy.

He indicated that owing to its endowment of natural resources, South Africa boasted considerable potential to spur these technologies. He said that it was now a question of understanding the opportunities and options, and then accelerating these.

Nicholls emphasised that South Africa needed to make sure that it tackled its energy crisis in the short term with a long-term view and environmental cognisance in mind. These would be two different plans; however, it is vital that both are equally addressed, he emphasised.