SA can take a lesson from Germany’s Energiewende, or energy turnaround, in planning better for the eventual closure of its coal-fired power stations. This was said on Monday by Markus Steigenberger, deputy executive director of Agora Energiewende, an independent German think-tank funded mostly by philanthropists. In March Eskom announced it would be closing five of its old coal-fired power stations over the next 10 years because its obligation to buy renewable energy would give it surplus power. The announcement has infuriated trade unions. The Energiewende is a plan presented in 2010 to make the German economy carbon neutral by increasing the contribution from renewables such as wind, solar and biomass and decreasing the contribution from coal and nuclear power. It is a speedier and more ambitious programme than any other country has attempted. Critics argue it has resulted in extremely high energy costs and that the intermittency of renewable energy would have rendered Germany’s p...

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