South Africa should not be over-reliant on renewable energy for its future electricity needs

World News: . []

The proposal of the country’s Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) 2018 that wind, solar and gas generation account for a combined total of 42% of South Africa’s total installed electricity capacity by 2030 was most unwise, AFRA-NEST Regional Coordinator Dr Anthonie Cilliers has warned. (AFRA stands for the African Regional Cooperative Agreement for Research, Development and Training Related to Nuclear Science and Technology, while NEST is the acronym for Network for Education in Nuclear Science and Technology.) He stressed that renewables had a place in the country’s energy mix, but that South Africa should not overestimate the contribution they would make. Under IRP 2018, by 2030 solar energy power stations using photovoltaic panels would account for 10% of the country’s total installed electricity generation capacity, with concentrated solar power adding another 1%, while wind power stations would account for 15%. Gas power plants would provide 16%. The problem was that, worldwide, the actual contribution of renewables to daily electricity generation was much lower than their installed capacity, meaning that, in practice, South Africa would be heavily dependent on gas-generated electricity. And South Africa had, as yet, no domestic source of gas (it was not yet known if the country had any commercially viable shale gas reserves). Nor could anyone forecast what the gas price would be in the future.

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