News agency, Cape Town, South Africa
Sunday May 27th 2018

Renewable energy offers more jobs than coal

Photo: Steve Kretzmann/WCN

Focussing on renewable energy initiatives would not only make South Africa more energy secure, it would create more jobs than alternative coal dependent scenarios and save hundreds of billions of rands over the long term.

Developing renewable energy would also reduce carbon emissions, as the use of coal – which the country currently relies on for 93 percent of its electricity generation – would be phased out.

Reducing our reliance on coal would also, besides having a “huge” impact on reducing emissions contributing to climate change, also reduce the “devastating” impacts coal mining, combustion and waste disposal has on many communities, says Greenpeace Africa climate campaigner Melita Steele.

Steele was speaking at the Reporting Science Conference 2010 held at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) this week.

Backed by scientists sharing the panel, such as Professor David Glasser at the Wits Centre of Material and Process Synthesis, Steele said South Africa, ranked as one of the 13 highest emitters of climate change inducing greenhouse gasses in the world, had a duty to reduce its carbon emissions.

And doing so would have multiple benefits.

The report: South African Energy Sector Jobs to 2030, prepared for Greenpeace Africa by the Institute for Sustainable Futures, University of Technology, Sydney, Australia, and authored by Jay Rutovitz, examined three different energy growth scenarios.

These were the International Energy Agency (IEA) Reference case; the Long Term Mitigation Scenario (LTMS) Without Growth Constraints (WGC); and the Energy [R]evolution scenario, which sets out a vision for a low-carbon energy future for South Africa.

The Energy [R]evolution scenario not only reduces carbon emissions by 60 percent by 2050 but also, over the same period creates more jobs in the sector and, although there is an capital expenditure implication and higher initial electricity costs per kilowatt hour (kW/h), saves $46 billion over the next 40 years compared to the other models.

The study found that the Energy [R]evolution scenario would result in a net increase of 78 000 jobs by 2030.

The LTMS GWC scenario would create 71 000 jobs and still leave the country heavily dependent on coal and major carbon emitter.

The IEA Reference case would result in an increase of 46 000 jobs with the same dependence on coal.

And should an enhanced manufacturing scenario be included in the job creation figures, the net job creation figure could increase to 111 700 jobs through the local manufacture of renewable energy equipment.

Following the Energy [R]evolution scenario, by 2030 South Africa would only have about a third of its electricity generated by burning coal. The remainder of the country’s energy production would come from biomass, hydro, solar thermal, geothermal, wind, photo-voltaic cells and ocean-generated power.

Prof Glasser said the Chemical Engineering Centre of Material and Process Synthesis (COMPS) had developed technology that enabled what was a headache for most local municipalities – their rubbish dumps – to be turned into an opportunity for energy and economic empowerment.

By tapping off the gas emitted by decomposing organic materials, said Glasser, it could be turned into electricity and fuel through Gas to Liquid technology. Additionally, he said the carbon dioxide tapped off the process could be used to create algal ponds to farm fish, a much needed source of protein.

COMPS was already exporting this technology to China and Australia, he said, but was being overlooked by the South African government.

However, he said private investors in Cape Town were looking into the possibilities offered by COMPS’s technology.

The reason renewable energy was not being adopted was due to a lack of political will and the centralisation of the energy sector, said Glasser and Steele.

There were too many large companies (Anglo American, Sasol, Eskom) with a monopoly on the energy market in a relatively small country, said Glasser. – Steve Kretzmann, West Cape News

Tags: africa, cape town, carbon, electricity, emissions, eskom, renewable, renewable energy, solar, Water

Reader Feedback

2 Responses to “Renewable energy offers more jobs than coal”

  1. [...] Renewable energy offers more jobs than coal | West Cape News [...]

  2. [...] Renewable energy offers more jobs than coal | West Cape News [...]

Leave a Reply