While LNG (liquefied natural gas) has been touted as a viable alternative energy solution for South Africa, Jan Fourie, Scatec Sub-Saharan Africa General Manager, cautions that renewables represent a far better strategy for an emerging economy like South Africa.
Scatec, a Norwegian-based renewable energy company has said that it plans to generate an additional 150 megawatts of electricity which will be fed into the South African power grid through its hybrid solar and battery plants in the Northern Cape.
Fourie said that “the significant challenges globally around decarbonisation, affordability, and profitability suggest that the LNG industry may not enjoy popular backing from banks and investors for much longer.”
Last week, Standard Bank was singled out by environmental protection and civil rights organisations for considering the financing of the controversial East African Crude Oil Pipeline project between Tanzania and Uganda.
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Standard Bank told the media that its participation is subject to findings of environmental and social due diligence assessments.
This, while the rest of South Africa’s big banks, FirstRand, Nedbank, Absa, and Investec, have opted out of the project.
“Though LNG is less carbon-intensive than coal, it is still a fossil fuel. Its usage has a detrimental impact on the environment, incurs a carbon tax, and is not consistent with our goals to expand renewables’ contribution to SA’s energy mix. A greener future using renewables is possible, and is, in the longer term, a better strategy.”
He added that renewable dispatchable power in South Africa is not a pipedream but is instead a reality available right now.
Natural gas is a non-renewable resource that produces carbon emissions and requires frequent maintenance whereas solar is renewable, produces no emissions and is easier to maintain over time.
“There are already many massive projects underway that promise to offset load shedding and bring South Africans clean power for the future. Dispatchable renewables are a risk-free win for government, and the key to future-proofing South Africa’s energy sector lies in harnessing the country’s abundant renewable resources,” Fourie he said.