Ed’s note: The new heyday for coal in the energy transition
Did you know that Nigeria stands to gain from just over 53,000 megawatts of electricity but only if it turns to coal? Sometimes referred to as black gold because of its colour and high value, coal also dominates South Africa’s economy producing around 77% of all electricity supply in the country.
This indigent mineral is hugely valuable to South Africa’s economy, with an average production of 224 million tonnes of marketable coal annually. This figure places South Africa as the fifth largest coal producing country globally—impressive, right?
No wonder the mere thought of an energy transition away from coal is a threatening prospect. Now, considering that these two countries account for almost half of sub-Saharan Africa’s gross domestic product, the role of coal cannot be overstressed.
However, since power outages plague both countries, the question is whether coal has any relevance in the power sector’s future. You will probably baulk at my next statement: Black gold is here to stay and if sustainably implemented can deliver reliable, affordable power to a large number of people and commerce.
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