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Fikile Mbalula: SA needs 3,000–4,000MW of renewable energy per annum over the next three decades

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FILE

Published May 11, 2022

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According to Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula, South Africa needs to install between 3,000MW and 4,000MW of renewable energy every year within the next three decades as part of a long-term shift toward a renewables-based power grid.

Annually, this would be the equivalent of adding one of South Africa’s mid-size power plants to the grid. Mbalula said at a climate commission conference last Thursday that this rapid pace may allow the country to develop adequate economies of scale for local manufacturers to build parts for wind and solar, as well as utility-sized batteries.

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“This manufacturing can create real jobs, not just intermittent jobs in the installation and construction, but decent permanent jobs linked to large scale manufacturing,” the minister said.

“We must invest in peaking power to provide the energy security that our country so desperately needs.

“We must continue to phase out coal, in a manner that is carefully structured and planned.

“Specifically, this means repurposing and repowering our existing coal plants, and creating new livelihoods for workers and communities most impacted in the change,” Mbalula said.

The minister of transport said his department was striving to equip the automotive manufacturing sector for new prospects in a cleaner transportation system, including electric vehicles. He added that the country’s transition to green energy would require both governmental and private sector assistance, as well as a deliberate push towards green finance.

The transition to a green energy economy will require massive shifts within South Africa’s domestic financial system in order to mobilise both public and private capital for the transition,“ he said. This would include strengthening regulation and institutional arrangements, partnering with the public sector for delivery, and attracting capital into new markets, new technologies, business models and SMMEs.

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Mbalula made reference to the devastating floods which overwhelmed KwaZulu-Natal and parts of the Eastern Cape recently as a sign that South Africa is far from immune to the effects of climate change and global warming.

“The science is clear that climate change is happening at an accelerated pace, with profound implications on all aspects of our lives – on rainfall patterns, water resources, crop viability, food security and human health, amongst others,” he said.

“The science is also clear that we must keep global warming below 1.5 degrees celsius if we want to avoid the worst of climate impacts. To do so, we must reduce greenhouse gas emissions dramatically over the next three decades to reach net-zero emissions by the middle of the century.”

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