Fracking not a solution to SA’s electricity problems

By on March 20, 2014
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The so-called energy boom, which fracking could potentially bring to South Africa’s economy, if given the go-ahead, is likely to be short lived, according to Arthur Chien, CEO of Talesun Energy.

Should fracking become the norm in South Africa, the long-term repercussions on the economy as well as the effect on the environment and public health, may be staggering, not to mention the potential clean-up costs that will fall on taxpayers for decades to come.

Chien says that in order to liberate South Africa’s reliance on coal for 95 percet of its electricity generation, Eskom’s focus should rather be on sustainable energy solutions. “If the same amount of buy-in from the government and the private sector is invested in PV solar energy, as is being considered for fracking the Karoo for energy, and if the same amount of capital and planning is invested, the energy outlook for South Africa can have a more secure future.”

He adds that renewable energy sources, such as PV solar energy, can significantly change the country’s energy mix and points to a report by Frost & Sullivan which compares solar PV to other energy sources. The report reveals that solar PV will be the most cost effective method for generating technology in South Africa by 2020. “Compared to the extraction of natural gas through the use of fracking to obtain energy, energy from PV solar modules is not only a more affordable method of energy generation, but it is more practical in that it requires less effort, it is not harmful to the environment, it is more reliable and affordable, and is readily available.”

Chien says that South Africa needs to take into account why there is increasing global civil unrest in Latin America, Europe, Australia and the US towards fracking and says that there are many reasons for the resistance against fracking. “The environmental impacts are shocking. Once water is used for fracking, it is lost to the water cycle forever.”

He points to a recent study by researchers at Duke University, who found dangerous levels of radioactivity and salinity at a shale gas waste disposal site that could contaminate drinking water. “Fracking brings with it the probability for spills, blowouts and well failures that may potentially contaminate groundwater supplies and can have negative effects on the health of residents and livestock in surrounding areas.

“To build a healthier energy future that is centered on clean, safe, renewable sources of power that are used efficiently, governments need to invest in renewables such as PV solar, as it is a method which we can obtain energy without harming the planet

“Energy efficiency and renewable energy should be the one of the country’s top priorities as these methods are the cleanest and inexpensive solutions to South Africa’s electricity supply shortage,” he concludes.

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