LETTER: Many viable options for additional energy sources
The identification and validation of alternative energy sources is a wonderful practical research opportunity for our universities
However Eskom and the government put it, the message is clear: stage 4 load-shedding or worse is a fact of life for the foreseeable future. Apart from the question as to who will now want to build a factory or other energy intensive facility in SA, those who already manage such businesses must consider their long-term survival.
Using diesel generators has to date been the only practical alternative. But diesel is expensive and likely to become more so as the global energy crisis intensifies, with Pakistan the most recent casualty.
Being mostly imported, the future supply of diesel may be problematic. We must start searching now for additional energy sources. Gas from the West Coast offshore fields and Karoo fracking are known and must, if viable, be exploited. The same can be said of solar photovoltaic panels and rural wind farms.
But what about tidal, current and wave energy? What happened to Stellenbosch University's 1960s wave energy research? The Agulhas current is the second most powerful globally. Could its constant energy be harvested as electricity via offshore farms on the sea bed?
What about industrial parks with central electricity generating plants where one factory's waste heat can be used by its neighbour? Could updated Darrieus windmill designs be installed productively in urban settings? Might Table Mountain’s dams become a second Steenbras pump storage scheme? What's the potential for hot springs and solar panels collectively powering steam turbines?
The identification and validation of alternative energy sources is a wonderful practical research opportunity for our universities, giving bright students both purpose and a reason to stay in SA.
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