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The Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) 2018 is being finalised amid yet another electricity crisis in SA. And the agenda at the UN-hosted climate talks offers a sober reminder of the challenges the world faces in tackling a warming planet. Both have a bearing on how SA secures its energy needs up to 2050. However, in a dynamic and rapidly changing sector globally, SA appears to still be grappling with the basics instead of taking the lead in resolving key issues. SA has a wealth of solar and wind resources. Studies by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research show wind farms using only 0.6% of SA’s land mass could generate our required 250TWh/yr of electricity. A simple analysis of solar irradiance done by RMB shows that solar PV (photovoltaic) plants covering less than 1% of the Northern Cape land could generate SA’s power needs. Though initial projects had higher feed-in tariffs, prices have dropped at a far better rate than could have been expected, with current bid rounds f...

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