South Africa often faces its long-time sporting rival, New Zealand, on the field and that made us wonder… If the two countries had to compete an energy challenge, who would be the champion of renewable energy resources?
South Africa doesn’t have a long-standing track record when it comes to renewable energy production. Our efforts, however, have gained momentum over the last few years. The country’s struggles with Eskom, have motivated us to get in the renewable energy game. This drive was also powered by the global movement to find cleaner alternatives to fossil fuels.
The government is rolling out 79 renewable energy projects across the country through the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producers Programme (REIPP). In 2016, 42 of these projects had already seen the light and supplied 2,000 megawatts of power.
South Africa enters the energy game with an advantage. Boasting over 2,500 hours of sunlight a year, our country is geared for solar energy production. This is something many home and business owners are benefitting from. The Eastern Cape’s Cookhouse Wind Farm Development is one of the biggest wind systems in Africa. These projects are creating jobs and cleaning up South Africa’s power supply. Currently, about 4.5% of our total energy is generated through renewable resources.
Unfortunately, coal still captains South Africa’s energy supply. Our reliance on Eskom far outweighs our renewable energy production. Although the state-owned utility has committed to a number of renewable energy projects, the country is still low on the global clean energy rankings. We’re eleventh in the world for total CO2 output from energy use. We also rank as the fifth-largest producer of climate-changing fossil fuel.
The Kiwis are going for gold when it comes to clean energy production. Their country is endowed with an abundance of renewable energy resources in the form of especially wind and geothermal energy.
They’re definitely making the most of it! New Zealand is aiming to shut down their last two remaining coal power plants in 2018. The aim is to generate 90% of their energy from renewables by 2025. Seeing as they already receive about 80% of their electricity from renewables, this goal is as good as in the bag.
How is the rest of the world doing?
Sweden is gunning for the title of energy world champion and aiming to become the world’s first country to use 100% renewable energy. They’ve challenged the rest of the world to beat them to it, but they’re close to scooping up the title by making huge investments in clean energy.
Denmark is also top of the ranks. In 2015, they broke the world record when 42% of the country’s power came from wind farms.
Germany is performing equally well in the clean energy challenge. As the global front-runner in solar PV capacity, the country has been able to meet as much as 78% of their daily electricity demand through solar power. Not bad for a country with more cloudy days than most!
Closer to home in Africa, Kenya is making great strides with geothermal energy and has been able to supply as much as 51% of its energy through this resource. The country is also betting on wind power and is close to completing one of Africa’s largest wind farms. It’s estimated to supply an additional 20% of renewable energy.
Upping our game
Unfortunately South Africa is not quite ready to play in the big leagues. Not if we compare ourselves to how New Zealand and the rest of the world are doing in terms of their clean energy endeavours. That, however, doesn’t mean we can’t be a strong contender in the future.
Even if we start small, at home, each of us can contribute towards making South Africa a top player in the renewable energy game. For example, a state-of-art home solar energy solution from Energy Partners could provide as much as 70% of your monthly household electricity needs. This would put you on par with the top players in the world – as well as help put SA on the renewable energy map.