Drivers for renewable energy – environment or economy?

By E Uken, Energy Institute, Cape Peninsula University of Technology


Published in:

Electricity+Control, November 2013 (pages 50 - 54)



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The majority of people living in developed countries support the notion of using renewable energy to save the environment from global warming. Developing nations generally cannot afford to commit themselves to a drastic energy switch.


The vision of the South African Department of Energy (DoE) is ‘to make adequate and affordable energy available to developing communities through a mix of renewable energy sources at a reasonable cost’.

This approach is a realistic and affordable one. There is room for all renewable energy sources and they should be allowed to compete with one another, including conventional sources of energy. All power producers should be given a fair chance to develop and compete – technically and economically. Instead of pushing out existing systems, the country is allowing renewable energy to make a sizeable contribution of up to 42% into the additional supply that will be required in coming years. The environment is bound to benefit from the introduction of renewable energy sources, once they start developing seriously in South Africa along affordable business principles.


Take note:

  • An abundance of wind and sun is not all that is required to render renewable energy viable.
  • To what extent are humans responsible for climate change?
  • Is the climate change debate a political tool?