Due to the fast development of the South African economy, the country needs to increase its power supplies. At the same time the country must be able to bare the environmental consequences of increased energy production. Today, most of South Africa’s energy is produced from polluting sources like coal and oil.
Environmental friendly sources need to play a larger role in the future of the energy supplies, as today less than 1% of South Africa’s energy is derived from renewable energy. This is despite South Africa’s favorable conditions for generating solar energy throughout the country and generating wind power along the coast.
The lack of focus on renewable energies in South Africa becomes even more apparent when comparing ourselves to some of the leading industrial nations. Countries like Germany, Japan and USA all increasingly derive large parts of its energy consumption from renewable energy sources. Germany derived for example 6 % of its energy from renewable sources in 2006 and has the goal of reaching 20 % by 2020.
Solar energy refers to transforming light energy to electric energy (Photovoltaic Systems) or to thermal energy (Solar Water Heaters). South Africa has ample opportunity to benefit of solar energy as the incoming radiations are amongst the highest in the world. The above picture, as developed by Eskom and the “National Institute of Minerals and Energy”, shows the average solar radiation around South Africa.
Besides environmental benefits, solar energy provides electricity to remote areas where grid electricity is economically unfeasible.