South Africa’s mining and energy minister Gwede Mantashe provided plenty of food for thought at this morning’s Junior Mining Indaba in Johannesburg. Including his call for an end to the “insane and silly” debate into the future of Eskom, coal, renewables and the nation’s energy security. Given that Mantashe arrived fresh from the first cabinet Lekgotla of the new Ramaphosa Administration, his perspectives carry considerable weight. – Alec Hogg
This is The Rational Perspective. I’m Alec Hogg. In this edition, Mantashe calls for sanity on Eskom, coal, and the renewables debate. South Africa’s Mining and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe provided plenty of food for thought at this morning’s Junior Mining Indaba in Johannesburg, including his call for an end to what he called an insane and silly debate into the future of Eskom, coal, renewables and the nation’s energy security. Given that Mantashe arrived fresh from the first cabinet Lekgotla of the new Ramaphosa administration, his perspectives reflect the way government is now thinking.
We must be part of any solution to the biggest threat to the economy. That is security of electricity supply. There’s a debate that is made unhealthy in South Africa that should be healthy. It’s not a question of how does Eskom…? The debate is even further than just Eskom but we must force the debate to be debated about security of energy supply in South Africa. This requires bringing sanity to the debate about coal and renewables. The debate from where I’m sitting…I must tread carefully now because it’s an area that I must handle broadly in one. But to me, it is not about killing coal and growing renewables. It can’t be. It’s a silly debate. It is about promoting the various technologies that are at our disposal and ensure that there is a combination and coexistence of the various technologies.
If we approach it that way, the debate becomes more sane. We must also invest in finding clean coal energy technology because my worry – I was accused of bashing renewables and supporting coal. No, that’s not me. My argument is this: if the coal gives up and says, “we’re dirty, everyone thinks we are dirty. Banks can’t touch us, etc.” you’re likely to die quicker than you should. But if you appreciates you are playing in a sector that plays a very important role in the economy, you will pool your resources together, research cleaner coal technologies and that is nobody else’s responsibility. But I can tell you that because it was Joshua Motsoaledi, hard-at-work identifying sites for carbon capturing storage with one of the sites nearing the stage of piloting…talk to them. The CEO for CGS is a man whom I call Eric. He’s short and his head is big like mine. I don’t know where he is now but you’ll see him. There he is. Talk to him. They’re doing some work on carbon capturing storage. They cannot do that on their own. They can do it faster if they work with you. I’ve learned a very important principle. In designing any system, you must involve the end-users, if you don’t they don’t take ownership of that system. So, they will have to talk to all of you. Work hard. Find clean coal technology for coal to survive longer than many people think. They’ve written obituaries of coal and I disagree with them. I think coal producers must be more worried than I am in this regard. The debate must be about security of energy suppliers of South Africa. This is a debate for this country.
We must not leave it to somebody else, otherwise I can tell you that Europe will have their own debate and impose certain things.
That was South Africa’s Mining and Energy Minister, Gwede Mantashe who this morning became the first member of the new Ramaphosa cabinet to take a public podium. This is the Rational Perspective. Until the next time, cheerio.