An electric storm is brewing over whether wind-generated energy should constitute SA’s future base load or if coal should continue to shoulder the job a while longer. Reading between the lines of the Department of Energy’s Integrated Resources Plan 2016 (IRP2016), the outcome is tilting in favour of wind. Coal’s champions, however, have taken up the gauntlet. For either camp to claim victory, they have a mountain to climb. For wind’s standard bearers the issue is how to keep the wind blowing and for coal’s backers, how to reduce the millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO²) it produces when it burns. The Department of Energy and Eskom envisages that by 2050, SA’s generation portfolio will include 37.4GW wind; 21.9GW combined-cycle gas turbines; 20.3GW nuclear; 17.6GW solar photovoltaic (PV); 15GW coal; 13.3GW open-cycle gas turbines; 2.5GW Inga hydro-electric project; 250MW landfill gas and 500MW demand response. The year 2050 is a long way off and innovation in energy production w...

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