Sunday, November 13, 2016

Windmills or Reactor Cores? Inside South Africa’s Energy Clash

Solar and wind are having success in South Africa. Please read on... 
Windmills or Reactor Cores? Inside South Africa’s Energy Clash
by Norimitsu Onishi Nov 13, 2016

UPINGTON, South Africa — In one of the most sun-drenched corners of the planet, a 670-foot tower rises above a desert dotted with 4,160 mirrors. Tracking the sun throughout the day, the mirrors, called heliostats, redirect the sun’s rays into the tower, where water is heated to generate steam — and electricity.

Since the plant, Khi Solar One, began operating early this year near Upington, it has produced enough power for 65,000 homes during the day, but also, thanks to the latest technology, for a few hours after the sun sets.

... South Africa is experiencing a boom in renewable energy. Solar plants and wind farms together have generated 2.2 gigawatts per year, which has been lauded as a model for renewables adoption in developing nations. Renewable energy has increased South Africa’s productivity, stopped the blackouts, and reduced its reliance on coal in part to comply with the Paris Agreement.

As the facilities have increased production, they have helped stop the blackouts that plagued South Africa until a year ago. In a country still dependent on coal, the renewable energy industry has been lauded by many energy experts and environmentalists as a model for developing nations. 

[More in the New York Times ...]
As elaborated in the article, in spite of the success of solar and wind energy, there are forces at work to expand the nuclear option, with the prospect of burdening future generations with nuclear waste and the cost to decommission decades into the future. When will our generation step up to the plate and take responsibility for the needs of future generations, as all generations have until the past century?

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