Solar Training Camp in Durban

Greenpeace activists and volunteers celebrate the sun's power after a two week solar training camp held in Durban, South Africa in October 2011. © Greenpeace

Lovely people,

The South African Sun here. Can I have a few minutes of your time to boast about what I’ve been up to lately?

You see, the fossil fools often quip that while solar power is a nice idea, it simply isn’t a viable energy solution. I obviously always knew that wasn’t true, so I’m writing to shed some powerful sunlight on the situation:

The high costs that, for years, made my solar power impractical as a mainstream source of energy are plummeting. In recent years, manufacturing costs of the photovoltaic cells used to capture my rays have dropped by 3 - 5% a year, and government subsidies have increased worldwide.

That being so, it’s become cheaper to capture my rays, right? But then what about getting the power from the solar panels to where you need it?

Well, because you’ll install your solar panels near where you’re going to use the power, it doesn't have to pass through hundreds of miles of wires, transformers and other equipment. So solar power doesn’t come at an expensive retail rate, bloated with transmission and distribution charges, like some other forms of power we know. Not that I’m pointing fingers at Eskom, or anything...

This is potentially very good news for the 2.5 million South African homes that are still without electricity. Dealing with this energy poverty should be a government priority, and centralized power supply just can’t seem to deliver. Investing in renewable energy however -- now that’s how you get new communities onto the grid!

So now we’ve got solar power as a) cheaper to install, and b) cheaper to maintain, when compared to conventional (dirty) energy forms. This means there are now obvious financial benefits to using solar power, and not just the environmental reasons anymore.

My share of the power business remains small, but the promise is great! More solar energy is being planned worldwide than any other power source, including nuclear, coal, natural gas and wind.

A Bright and Sunny Future

In a single hour I splash more clean energy on the planet than what humans use in an entire year - and daytime is when you need electricity the most. Using me more really is a no-brainer.

The lovely folks at Greenpeace have shown how renewable energy could provide 94% of South Africa’s electricity by 2050. It’s part of what they are calling the Energy [R]evolution, and it’s the solution to sustainable energy generation and massive job creation!

So let’s keep going in the direction the planet needs to go. Join me in asking government to use renewable energy more, and we can all start benefitting from my powerful rays.

See you on the beach this summer,

The South African Sun.