Powering The Future

Renewable Energy Rollout in South Africa

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Feature story - March 25, 2013
Our latest report, released on the eve of the BRICS summit in Durban, busts prevailing myths around green energy and reaffirms why renewables are the best option for powering South Africa.

Download the ReportShortsighted energy choices, guided by vested interests in coal and nuclear power, are preventing millions of South Africans from accessing electricity.

In addition, misconceptions about what renewable energy can achieve and a lack of political will power remain major stumbling blocks in clean energy rollout.

Two years after world leaders met in Durban for the UN talks, which failed to deliver a plan for a clean energy future, the question is whether Brazil, Russia India, China and South Africa (BRICS) can lead the way in renewable energy development.

The ground-breaking report, Powering the Future: Renewable Energy Roll-out in South Africa, debunks important myths about renewable energy generation; offers solutions to the barriers to its deployment; and presents success stories from across the globe.

According to Kumi Naidoo, International Executive Director for Greenpeace, “South Africa’s current energy planning is dangerously short-sighted, ignoring the vast external costs of both coal and nuclear power, and fails to provide electricity for millions of citizens”.

“A roof-top revolution will speed up the uptake of renewable energy if local and national governments will agree to feed-in tariffs, net metering and other small scale renewable energy mechanisms,” said Greenpeace Climate and Energy Campaigner Ruth Mhlanga.

The question is why the South African government continues to use public funds for coal power plants and centralized energy distribution, when renewable energy is cheaper, provides universal access, and creates thousands more jobs that the government’s current energy plan.


“The falling costs of renewable energy compared to the rising costs of fossil fuels, such as coal, prove that the economics have already changed. These trends – highlighted in our report – show that the age of coal is over,” added Mhlanga.

South Africa can and should champion a renewable energy future, one in which we see increased access to cheap electricity, thousands of new jobs and the democratisation of energy production. An Energy [R]evolution is possible if our leaders are willing to champion the cause.

“South Africa, the BRICS bloc, and the rest of the world can no longer afford to wait – climate change is happening now. It is no longer technology, a lack of resources, nor even economics that are preventing an Energy [R]evolution – but misconceptions and a lack of political will,” concluded Mhlanga.