Goodbye coal, hello renewable energy

We went along to Rhodes Memorial on Sunday to watch the demolition of the iconic Athlone Cooling towers. We were very happy to see these symbols of our dependence on coal implode and we cracked open the champagne and ate cupcakes to celebrate. See more photos here.

We got many signatures on our Solar Water Heater petition, calling for Government to rather spend the R60 billion set aside for a new coal power station on providing 4 million Solar Water Heaters to the citizens of South Africa. Not only will this reduce carbon emissions, it will also reduce electricity bills and create jobs. 

Research shows that renewable forms of energy can create up to 25% more jobs than coal.   Research by the Global Climate Network (GCN) has shown that 145,500 jobs could be created in South Africa in our renewable energy sector.   These figures were based on a 15% target for energy generated from renewable sources by 2020. To put this into perspective, the coal mining industry created just 37,000 jobs in 2008.

And of course renewables don’t come with the host of problems that coal brings such as acid mine drainage, ground and water pollution, extensive water use and health effects from coal pollutants.

Eskom is South Africa’s biggest user of coal with 10 coal-fired power stations in SA emitting a whopping 220 Mt CO2 per annum. Three coal power stations are now being returned to service with plans to build two additional coal power stations, Medupe and Kusile, needlessly locking South Africa into a high carbon energy future.

We all need to take responsibility for reducing our own electricity use, this brilliant short video shows what Cape Town will look like if we continue to waste electricity: 

A research paper published in the newspapers last week has proven that wind can produce 35% of SA’s electricity. Kilian Hageman at UCT shows that South Africa has more than enough wind to provide a consistent feed into the national grid, and at a cheaper cost. Eskom’s proposed coal power station, Kusile, will produce electricity at a cost of R30-35m per MW of installed capacity compared with wind power at R20-25m. (Interestingly the nuclear industry would not release their pricing details!)

It is time for our Government to stop subsidising fossil fuels as this money could be better spent on developing the renewable energy sector. Read more:

With the floods in Pakistan displacing 14million people, the fires and smog in Moscow, the giant 260 sq km sheet of ice which has broken off a glacier in Greenland, coastal properties at risk in KZN from sea level rise we have a stark reminder that climate change is already happening and we urgently need to start a transition into a low-carbon, sustainable energy future.

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2 responses to “Goodbye coal, hello renewable energy

  1. Sounds like a nice excuse for a cocktail party but I am sure (I hope) you know how many coal power stations 10 times the size of Athlone are currently under construction here in SA.

  2. Hi Irvine, yes we are aware of the new coal stations being built, it was more a symbolic celebration! 🙂 But we are promoting Government spending R60billion on 4million Solar Water Heaters instead of on building Kusile. Please support our campaign here: http://www.activist.co.za/ag3nt/system/campaign_solarwater.php

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