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Can renewable energy keep the lights on?

Solar array at Goedgedacht Farm installed by Project 90

We all agree that having reliable, affordable energy is essential for living well. This agreement is often threatened however when we aim to define what we mean by ‘reliable and affordable’.

For some reliable energy for electricity means the ability to connect to the electricity grid, for others reliability  is about individual control i.e. locally produced where it is needed and not reliant on grid stability.

Then there’s affordability – for some this means the ability to pay for basic energy needs, for others it means identifying what makes the most financial investment sense and spending accordingly.

So when we ask the question ‘can Renewable energy keep the lights on?’ we can’t begin to answer this question properly without considering how electricity is viewed and usedand what the South African electricity context enables or disables.

Project 90 promotes renewable energy as economically viable and an ethically sound alternative to energy sources like Coal and Nuclear.  We believe in the power of inspired individuals to embrace radical change, for this to lead to collective action for wider societal change which could then have a serious impact on our agreed Energy investment priorities and related Electricity planning.  We operate from the basic belief that Energy efficiency coupled with renewable energy could make a significant difference to our national electricity supply picture.

These views are not merely ideological and emotive. We have taken the time over several years to understand the impacts and benefits of Coal, Nuclear and Renewable energy.

Our findings have led us to conclude that:

  • the true costs of Coal and Nuclear are in fact much higher than we can afford, both economically and ethically.
  • Renewable energy can indeed keep the lights on – provided we dare to re-imagine Energy demand and supply in South Africa. Would you like to see what we have found?

Over the next few weeks, via a series of blog posts we will share our findings with you, right here. We will aim to answer questions like:

  • Do we need more investment in Nuclear and Coal energy?
  • How affordable is Renewable energy?
  • Does signing up for Renewable energy mean that we sign up for the lights to be off when we need them to be on?

Today we’d like to kick things off with just a spoonful of food for thought:

  • Globally the costs of renewable energy technologies are dropping steadily each year.
  • Globally the costs of Nuclear and Coal-fired power stations are increasing significantly each year.

Given the choice between electricity supply today which guarantees a legacy that is bad for future generations, and energy today which is guaranteed to enhance energy and environmental security for future generations – which would you choose?

Brenda Martin and Robert Fischer

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2 responses to “Can renewable energy keep the lights on?

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