Wearing our brains on our sleeve.
25 May 2017 21:57 (South Africa)
Opinionista Geoff Davies

Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and renewable energy

  • Geoff Davies
    Bishop-Geoff-Davies.jpg
    Geoff Davies

    Bishop Geoff Davies, 'The Green Bishop', is the founder and honorary patron of the Southern African Faith Communities Environmental Institute, and retired Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Umzumvubu.

So-called developed countries are doing their best to move away from both coal and nuclear energy, with huge investment in developing renewable energy. South Africa, we had hoped, would have become a manufacturing hub for renewable energy in Africa.

We mustn’t listen to those who say we must only use renewable energy,” said aspiring president Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma at a church gathering this past weekend. No developed country uses only renewable energy, there must be a mix, she said.

It is highly unfortunate that our political leaders are so poorly informed about energy developments – or are they so well informed about the financial benefits to be gained through the procurement of nuclear energy that they support nuclear energy at all costs?

There are such dramatic developments taking place in electricity storage, and equally dramatic reduction in costs, that long before a nuclear power station could be built, renewable energy will be far cheaper, safer and more accessible to the people of South Africa than nuclear-generated electricity delivered through a centralised grid could ever be.

And so I am sending this message and U-tube link to our President and Deputy President and the Ministers of Finance, Energy and State Enterprises and to Eskom.

Dear President Zuma,

For the good of our country – yours and mine – I pray we look to the future and not back at the past.

Coal and nuclear are energy sources of the last century. I send this presentation by Tony Seba, given to the Nordic Energy Summit in 2016, it shows the future, with huge opportunities and potential benefit for us all, notably in our country with such renewable energy potential.

It is a 54-minute clip of his illustrated talk about the “disruption and dramatic developments” to traditional transport when improvements in the costs and technologies of solar energy, storage and electric cars converge.

Please do see the opportunities shown here for our future.

I am sending this because we continue to see a denial by political leaders of the opportunities being given to South Africa with some of the best renewable energy resources in the world.

The reality is that so-called developed countries are doing their best to move away from both coal and nuclear energy, with huge investment in developing renewable energy. South Africa, we had hoped, would have become a manufacturing hub for renewable energy in Africa. The government is doing the people of South Africa a massive disservice by failing to look to the future.

Renewable energy is the only responsible form of energy accessible for the majority of South Africans as well as being essential from climatic and environmental requirements. Look at the disastrous impact of both coal and uranium mining on our land and water resources.

A nuclear build will be a financial disaster for South Africa and a white elephant before it has even been completed.

Dlamini-Zuma also said in her address that “corruption was not only robbing people but also eroding the trust they had in the government”. Nowhere is this more evident than in the government’s pursuit of nuclear energy. There is no reason other than the financial benefits for those in power. It is indeed eroding our trust in the leadership of the present government. DM

Bishop Geoff Davies, a.k.a. ‘The Green Bishop’, is executive director of the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute

  • Geoff Davies
    Bishop-Geoff-Davies.jpg
    Geoff Davies

    Bishop Geoff Davies, 'The Green Bishop', is the founder and honorary patron of the Southern African Faith Communities Environmental Institute, and retired Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Umzumvubu.

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