Identifying Renewable Opportunities In South African Mining And Agriculture
South Africa’s ongoing electricity crisis – caused by aging coal-fired stations, lack of critical maintenance, and system neglect – has led to supply disruptions and rolling blackouts known as load-shedding, to prevent the total collapse of the power system controlled by state-owned Eskom.
The effects of this have been multifold. According to Jannie Rossouw, Head of the School of Economic and Business Sciences at the University of the Witwatersrand, load-shedding has caused a significant decline in economic activity, growth and investment across the country. According to Rossouw’s estimates, South Africa has lost approximately R1.2 trillion due to load-shedding, which suggests that the economy could be up to 25% larger without frequentpower outages. Unfortunately, unless additional capacity is secured, Andre de Ruyter, CEO of Eskom, has announced that load-shedding will continue over the next five years.
With blackouts ongoing across the country, South Africa’s industries have been largely impacted, resulting in a slowdown of economic activities due to intermittent power supply. As a result, several industries are turning to alternative power generation solutions, primarily within renewables, to mitigate supply disruptions and ensure continuity of operations. The mining industry represents a critical opportunity for the deployment of renewable energy as a means of ensuring sectoral stability and growth. By presenting integration opportunities between increasing electricity demand by mines and renewable energy power solutions, the mining industry can drive renewable sector growth and increase installed capacity. Additionally, opportunities within the agriculture sector have emerged, giving rise to a new form of sustainable agriculture built on the backbone of solar photovoltaic (PV) solutions. By utilizing renewable energy solutions and establishing multi-sector integration, South Africa can initiate country-wide socioeconomic growth in spite of an unreliable national grid.
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