Energy plan organised

Business Day, Philip Lloyd 21 July 2010.

“Flawed assumptions will give SA a dinosaur economy,” claims Leonie Joubert (July 12). The Department of Energy is paying inadequate attention to renewable energy in its second Integrated Resource Plan, she says.

This is absolute nonsense. The foundations of the plan’s assumptions were fully canvassed earlier in the year. The process gave equal weight to all the energy sources. It gave a wide range of scenarios for consideration. Any member of the public could have made input, and so, for that matter, could members of Parliament’s energy committee.

I took advantage of the opportunity, and found the process well organised and simple to understand. All the issues about which Ms Joubert moans were up for comment.

I don’t know why there is this continuing campaign to thrust renewable energy upon us . Ms Joubert is clearly not aware of what is going on in the real world when she claims that a transition to a low-carbon economy is the direction in which all economies are heading. They aren’t. The world’s consumption of fossil fuels is growing rapidly.

That is not to say that renewables may not have their role. The major problem is not how to generate power, but how to distribute it. Huge investment in transmission and distribution would be needed .

To be green it helps to be rich. If you are poor, you use what resources you can lay your hands on — even if it is nasty, dirty coal. The gains from cheap electricity easily offset the unproven benefits of renewables.

Prof Philip Lloyd

Energy Institute, Cape Peninsula University of Technology

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