A week of intensive exposure to energy debates in South Africa has left me doubting the sanity of the nation. There is no consensus on the way forward to provide the energy we need to sustain growth and conserve the environment. We persist in looking in the wrong places for solutions we know are not solutions. That’s madness isn’t it?
The energy scene is a muddle from which we must free ourselves with a collective focus on technogically and socially viable solutions. The trouble is we are divided in mind and soul, fighting over narrow interests rather than responding to the one big challenge of how to produce enough power at optimum cost to serve the needs of all.
The media are very much part of the madness. Not only do many journalists and their editors fail to understand – or apply their minds to – energy issues, but they continue to blow this way and that in the winds of opinion instead of focusing on the priorities of safety, cost, health and sustainability. Take a look at The Media are the Muddle.
South Africa’s reliance on coal is legendary; it’s filthy but readily available and the easiest option. Well, maybe not so easy. The tragi-comedy called the construction of the new Medupi Power Station, with its repeated delays, is costing the taxpayer millions in contractual violations and wildcat strike violence.
Meanwhile we are looking at a slew of nuclear