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Localised green power

I was pleased to read an article about Australians embracing solar power. Australia remains is one of the two countries that signed the Kyoto Protocol, but have no intention of ratifying it (the other being the US).

However, Australia, like the US, does have a reasonable developed market in renewable energy certificates

It’s frustrating that this is not available in South Africa. With the Cape Town power crisis, the city council (when not backstabbing and bickering) has been talking of subsidising people’s purchases of solar power heaters. The subsidy method is not nearly as ideal, as it’s expensive to government, and therefore never embraced as wholeheartedly. The principle of polluter pays must be adhered to. Eskom will be the one paying for the credits, but at the same time they’ll be benefitting, as with the reduction in demand, they then won’t need to spend huge amounts of money on new power plants. Massive centralisation, with all the secrecy, potential for corruption, risk and social impact that goes with huge projects is unnecessary. With the power crunch hitting, it’s easy to make simplistic calls for more nuclear power stations without questioning the paradigm of massive centralisation.

Similarly, Australia has a mechanism for individuals to sell any excess power they generate back to the grid. The article quotes an individual who’s bought solar power panels for his roof, enough to run his household and have excess to sell. By creating this simple mechanism, new revenue opportunities open up to more people. It becomes much more affordable for more people. Central demand decreases.

If even Australia, with one of the least progressive governments, can demonstrate this, why not here? Instead, we continue to think with blinkers on, and rely on the suits behind closed doors to solve the problem in the old familiar way.

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