- Last year, a study from the CSIR found that renewable energy projects in our country created R800 million in financial benefits for our economy through the generation of 2.2 TWh (terawatt hours) of solar and wind power. That means that after all their implementation and operating costs were subtracted, we came out R800 million ahead. In contrast, Medupi coal plant looks set to finish R69 billion over budget. (No, that ‘b’ is not a typo.)
- Renewable energy is already picking up the slack from coal power: another CSIR study found that it was thanks to the renewable energy projects on our grid that the country was saved 15 additional days of load shedding in 2015.
- Alternatives to coal-fired electricity exist, but there are no alternatives to water. Simple as that. The last quarter of 2015 saw five out of the nine provinces — KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, Limpopo, the North West, including the breadbasket of the country, the Free State — declared as water disaster areas and by extension disaster areas for agriculture. We can no longer afford to rely on an energy source that is as water-intensive as coal power.
- We thought 2014 was the hottest year on record. But then 2015 came and broke that record. And the scary thing is, the people who study these things expect 2016 to be even hotter. Climate change is no longer something we can say ‘will happen to our kids or grandkids’ — it’s happening to us, right now. We need to quit fossil fuels to stop any more lives being affected by this.
- We’re poised to take back power for the people: Politicians have been listening to polluting companies for too long now. Before the project was put on hold earlier this year, concerns about corruption around South Africa’s nuclear deal were really starting to gain traction. And on the coal front, the company of the Gupta family, who are said to have undue influence on our President Jacob Zuma, recently acquired a contract to supply coal to Eskom, our state utility. Compare whose pockets are being lined with those fossil fuels to the fact that 40% of South African wind farms are owned by and therefore directly empowering communities around them. Renewable energy truly is people’s power.
- Coal power costs are rising while renewable energy just keeps getting cheaper. The South African Photovoltaic Industry Association (SAPVIA) found that Eskom will be selling coal-fired electricity for R1.69/kWh by 2020, while solar and wind power are expected to cost us from R0.99 – 0.86/KWh
There you have it — immense financial benefits, stopping further climate change, protecting our scarce water supplies, government transparency, and empowering communities with jobs and reliable power are all reasons it makes perfect sense to break free from fossil fuels.
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