No! Solar energy is not Free
At the Presidential Climate Change Commission meeting held at the CSIR on Friday,14 April 2023. The point of view of the meeting was that solar energy is free and we need to trust the government that the equitable energy transition will be fair (JET).
Many respected officials and ministers opened the event, but the most honest discussion came from a young student, Otsile Nkadimeng, who said that the current generation has gambled away their future. Unfortunately, he is not wrong. What will the future look like for the new job seekers after the current Eskom Loadshedding programme?
First, it is important to note that the conversion of solar energy into electrons/electricity is not free. It is very expensive to convert solar energy into such an amount that you can optimally run a house or, more importantly, a business. The type of solar panels, battery storage, inverters, electrician costs, environmental regulations, etc. can cost hundreds of thousands of rands.
A story is told that one company had allocated R1 million to run its business on solar energy, but the cost has now risen to R3 million and is growing. If you make the wrong purchase and set it up incorrectly, you’ll have to start from scratch and your hard-earned cash will have gone to waste.
During the strategy meeting at the Nkangala District Council in March 2023, a CSIR representative stated that the district and the Mpumalanga region will suffer a tremendous loss of employment because of the government’s JET programme. Many consultants talk about retraining the soon to be unemployed. I wonder what skills we will need when economic activity declines significantly.
Solar energy is not free and, because of the current power shortages, our current jobs are in danger. Our country and our region need cheap, reliable base load to stabilise our manufacturing sector for economic growth.