Lee-Roy Chetty
Lee-Roy Chetty

Towards a low-carbon Africa

Renewable projects are being planned and implemented throughout Africa, bringing both immediate and long-term solutions to Africa’s energy challenges while congruently attempting to reduce greenhouse gas production and emissions.

As a country extremely vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, South Africa has identified water, disease, food security and environmental migration as key areas where climate change will exacerbate existing development challenges.

In addition, our country has an economy that is powered by coal-generated electricity.

With energy-intensive industry and mining contributing significantly towards our GDP, there are fears it will be penalised by global markets that are starting to shun carbon-intensive goods and services.

The South African Renewables Initiative aims to support the rapid development of large-scale renewable energy in fulfilment of our country’s Integrated Resource Plan that aims to add up to 19GW of renewable energy to the national grid by 2030.

The South African Renewables Initiative has set out to solve the incremental cost challenge and help catalyse green growth through job creation and through stimulation of off-grid renewable energy in the wider economy.

The initiative also seeks to mobilise and channel international public finance into the development of renewable energy capacity and the delivery of green energy.

Parallel to this strategy, the South African Low-Carbon Action Plan is a proposed framework and national planning tool designed to unpack the what, when and how of creating a low-carbon economy.

The allocation of the carbon budget will involve trade-offs between different activities that will have far-reaching implications.

It is being undertaken through a collaborative process involving all relevant stakeholders.

Contribution to development will be a primary consideration in determining which emitting activities are afforded space in the national carbon budget.

In respect to the rest of the African continent, electricity consumption in the Middle East and North Africa region is among the fastest growing in the world.

At the same time, the region has huge potential in concentrated solar power (CSP) generation that could serve its own and wider regional needs. The vision of the Mediterranean Solar Plan, under the Union for Mediterranean initiative is to exploit the renewable energy potential of North Africa and become a global powerhouse for green energy.

CSP can help meet growing demand in the region and beyond, enhance energy security and diversify the energy mix for power generation. It can also fuel green growth opportunities through local sourcing of equipment, components and services.

Morocco has the largest proposed capacity of the Middle East and North Africa countries and is now planning one of the largest CSP plants in the world. The Morocco Solar Plan, launched in November 2009, is the cornerstone of the country’s renewable energy and climate change mitigation strategy.

In response to the broader decline of the global environment, the concept of green economy is now evolving from being just an ideal to a concrete and achievable approach to growth that is gathering more and more support from the African continent.

Africa’s ecological infrastructure – terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems and biodiversity – is as essential to inclusive human development and improved quality of life as are industrial and social infrastructures such as roads, schools, hospitals and energy provision.

Investment in natural capital can help drive the development of a green economy and secure ecosystem services on which we all depend. These services provide food, water and energy, support our livelihoods and help us stay resilient to the uncertain conditions of a changing climate.

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  • 3 Responses to “Towards a low-carbon Africa”

    1. Yaj #

      Good article. Apart from climate change , Peak Oil (the end of cheap oil) is another compelling reason for investment in renewable energy.Other crucial investments are needed to be made in developing mass public transit systems based on electrified light rail network connecting farms, towns and cities with more and more emphasis on localising agricultural production and manufacturing.
      Vital to all of these endeavours is how e provide the finance for these investments. This is where the establishment of state banks is essential to creating the credit for new infrastructure. Care must be taken to avoid indebtedness at interest to any private financial institutions for this purpose.
      Ultimately we will need fundamental monetary reform with full reserve banking and public credit to achieve long-term sustainability, stability and a steady-state economy based on renewable energy and recycling. A recent IMF Working Paper supports this idea fully as a solution to the current global debt crisis as well and is entitled “The Chicago Plan Revisited”.

      November 15, 2012 at 5:08 pm
    2. Juju Esq. #

      Thanks Lee-Roy. A very important topic.

      November 16, 2012 at 9:23 am
    3. Its a real pity that we do not have a bid bold solar plan as with North Africa. In SA it’s an add on. Combined with hydro from the Congo Southern Africa could be world leader in sustainable energy. Instead we are pushing a local coal peak which will leave us at a massive competitive disadvantage 2020 -2030

      December 11, 2012 at 7:16 pm

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