Business Unusual
concentrated-solar-power-energy-array-renewablejpg

How one city may change the way all cities are built

Abu Dhabi started a project in 2006 to build a development that would give the country an edge on the innovation and evolution of renewable energy - Masdar City.

Rather than see themselves as an oil rich country, they have opted to think of themselves as an energy rich country. As fossil fuel reserves decline and concerns about their use rise, they appear to be using oil money to kill the oil business while building the renewable energy industry.

You may be surprised to know that the International Renewable Energy Agency is based there.

It is not a utopia though, the build launch in 2008 came as the world financial crisis hit which saw oil prices fall drastically.

The ambitious project had to be scaled back and the completion date pushed out, but the principle and the vision of other projects like it are significant for South Africa and Africa to note.

An infrastructure project for South Africa and Africa

South Africans may not remember the days of cheap and abundant electricity but they will remember the inconvenience and cost to the economy of load shedding and huge electricity cost spikes.

SA produces almost half of all the electricity in Africa and we are also the biggest consumers of it on the continent. The opportunity to connect the 600 million Africans who currently still contend with limited access and high costs could be a great project for the continent and bring significant economic opportunities for all involved.

In order to connect everyone in SA sustainably we will need to relook at our energy mix which is still heavily reliant on coal.

There are two significant opportunities:

  • Improving our future use of energy to best benefit society, the economy and the environment
  • Use the improvements to connect and enhance the economies of fellow African countries

The option to explore nuclear is not without merit, but the potential for the deployment of renewable options closer to the areas still underserved and using the best options may make it is more suitable than the significant cost and build times of nuclear programme.

The projections for job creation are also greater with renewable operations. Besides the installation and maintenance options there are opportunities in manufacturing, research and export.

South Africa can’t expect to keep doing what it has done in the past in the way it has been doing it and hope it will be enough.

Energy is both a critical need and huge opportunity to foster growth for Africa. Investing in the technology and training the future captains of the industry will tick many of South Africa’s goals for economic transformation, growth, increased trade and human development.

The rapid adoption of mobile phones might not require much electricity, but it does require it and the benefits that flow from mobile connections are significant.

Hans Rosling made the point that one of the world’s best inventions is the washing machine for it’s ability to transform society for the better. To use washing machines, you need electricity.

It will require Eskom to continue to invest in renewable projects (even if more expensive at the moment), consider the actual benefits for new base load power stations that are coal or nuclear based, rather than gas or a mix of renewables.

Universities should look to create and promote courses that will allow us to add to the development of the sector and support will be needed to attract and create businesses to manufacture, install and maintain them.

South Africa’s Renewable Energy Council is playing a role in achieving this but more will be needed to ensure the role played by Eskom, the State, investors and renewable producers can capitalise on the current success and drive for the full benefits to be achieved.


702 welcomes all comments that are constructive, contribute to discussions in a meaningful manner and take stories forward.

However, we will NOT condone the following:

  • Racism (including offensive comments based on ethnicity and nationality)
  • Sexism
  • Homophobia
  • Religious intolerance
  • Cyber bullying
  • Hate speech
  • Derogatory language
  • Comments inciting violence.

We ask that your comments remain relevant to the articles they appear on and do not include general banter or conversation as this dilutes the effectiveness of the comments section.

We strive to make the 702 community a safe and welcoming space for all.

702 reserves the right to: 1) remove any comments that do not follow the above guidelines; and, 2) ban users who repeatedly infringe the rules.

Should you find any comments upsetting or offensive you can also flag them and we will assess it against our guidelines.

702 is constantly reviewing its comments policy in order to create an environment conducive to constructive conversations.

Read More
How a South African put Amazon in the cloud

How a South African put Amazon in the cloud

You may not know Chris Pinkham, but you use the services he helped create every day.

Things we invented in 2017

Things we invented in 2017

No, this is not about Bell Pottinger or Donald Trump, but actual innovations that will affect us in the future.

The drone and satellite could become as important as the tractor to farmers

The drone and satellite could become as important as the tractor to farmers

Farming advances will add precision, both to reduce waste and costs while improving yield and being kinder to the environment.

Robots are coming! They're running, jumping and doing the backflip to get here

Robots are coming! They're running, jumping and doing the backflip to get here

A robot doing a single task is not new. The kind that can do tasks on their own? That can be a bit more scary.

Grass is always greener where you water it. That is the problem

Grass is always greener where you water it. That is the problem

We may love the sight of a manicured green lawn but, for most of South Africa, it is just not a good use of water anymore.

Electricity prices getting you down? How does free sound?

Electricity prices getting you down? How does free sound?

Suppliers of renewable energy in Germany reduced electricity prices to zero recently.

Popular articles
Dr Mbuyiseni Ndlozi opens up about his thesis

Dr Mbuyiseni Ndlozi opens up about his thesis

Ndlozi explains the significance of the the first chapter of his thesis: 'Trauma in the archives'.

German prosecutors probing Steinhoff CEO Markus Jooste (for accounting fraud)

German prosecutors probing Steinhoff CEO Markus Jooste (for accounting fraud)

The Money Show’s Bruce Whitfield interviews Steinhoff International Chairperson Christo Wiese.

Happy 50th birthday, Pick n Pay (congrats on growing your bottom line by 18%)!

Happy 50th birthday, Pick n Pay (congrats on growing your bottom line by 18%)!

50 years ago the retailer started out when Raymond Ackerman bought three tiny stores from Click founder Jack Goldin.

Is it normal to have a curved penis? Dr Shingai explains

Is it normal to have a curved penis? Dr Shingai explains

Urologist Dr Shingai Mutambirwa says penile curvature is only a concern if it impedes a man's ability to have penetrative sex.

Who is Advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi?

Who is Advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi?

The EFF lawyer stole the show during the state capture report court battle.

Meet Shoprite’s Christo Wiese, ruler of retail (and 3rd richest African)

Meet Shoprite’s Christo Wiese, ruler of retail (and 3rd richest African)

Bruce Whitfield interviews the remarkable Wiese (net worth R100 billion!) about how it all began and where it’s going.

3 easy questions could bag you R2000!

3 easy questions could bag you R2000!

WIN R2000! But only if you can prove you're a whiz of the MTN Biz Quiz by answering the following three questions...

Blesserfinder: Matching you with a sugar daddy near you

Blesserfinder: Matching you with a sugar daddy near you

Is social trend Blesserfinder, where girls are allegedly matching up with rich 'benefactors' in exchange for sex, a real thing?