Lead­ing Africa’s clean rev­o­lu­tion

CityPress - - Business - BIÉNNE HUISMAN busi­ness@city­press.co.za

South Africa is Africa’s clean en­ergy fron­trun­ner. Since 2011, it has in­vested R249 bil­lion in wind and so­lar tech­nol­ogy.

We are fol­lowed by Morocco, which has spent R64 bil­lion, and Kenya, which has spent R37.3 bil­lion.

This emerged at a talk by Michael Liebre­ich, chair of the ad­vi­sory board at Bloomberg New En­ergy Fi­nance, a lead­ing provider of in­for­ma­tion on clean en­ergy to in­vestors, en­ergy com­pa­nies and gov­ern­ments. He ad­dressed a packed au­di­to­rium dur­ing African Util­ity Week at the Cape Town In­ter­na­tional Con­ven­tion Cen­tre.

Around the world, R5.1 tril­lion has been in­vested in re­new­able en­ergy – in­clud­ing wind and so­lar tech­nol­ogy – fol­low­ing the crash of oil and gas prices.

He started the talk by quot­ing busi­ness mogul Bill Gates, who said in Novem­ber last year that “we need an en­ergy mir­a­cle”. Gates com­mit­ted $2 bil­lion (R31 bil­lion) of his own for­tune to re­search and de­vel­op­ment into clean en­ergy.

Dur­ing dis­cus­sions on global en­ergy trends, Liebre­ich stressed that clean en­ergy in­vest­ment was on the rise, and that wind and so­lar en­ergy would con­tinue to be­come cheaper to in­tro­duce.

He ad­mit­ted that chang­ing to clean en­ergy was like re­build­ing the en­gine of an aero­plane in mid-flight. “In Africa, it’s even more dif­fi­cult. Here, you’re at­tempt­ing to re­build the en­gine when you’re tak­ing off. That’s a great chal­lenge.”

He said African coun­tries had clean en­ergy in­vest­ment po­ten­tial, but cred­it­wor­thi­ness of util­i­ties re­mained a chal­lenge.

“In terms of in­vest­ment, a lot of work is yet to be done by African gov­ern­ments on the cred­it­wor­thi­ness of util­i­ties,” he said.

Liebre­ich lauded the launch of South Africa-born US en­tre­pre­neur Elon Musk’s lat­est elec­tric car, the Tesla Model 3. He called it a clean en­ergy “mir­a­cle”, a “game-changer and the most suc­cess­ful tech­nol­ogy launch of all time”.

The car had at­tracted about 276 000 or­ders, worth al­most $12 bil­lion, he said.

Univer­sity of Cape Town pro­fes­sor and en­ergy ex­pert An­ton Eber­hard took to the podium af­ter Liebre­ich and said re­new­able en­ergy could not be ig­nored.

“Re­new­able en­ergy is break­ing through in a way tra­di­tional power util­i­ties can­not ig­nore any longer. Due to their vari­abil­ity, re­new­ables are not suit­able for base load gen­er­a­tion, but they are be­com­ing cheaper and we’ll have to max­imise their con­tri­bu­tion to the grid.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.