Overview of energy sector


Foreword

Affordable energy is the back bone of which most of the South African economy was built on. Energy is a necessity for all economic activity. It provides heat where needed as well as cold. It lights up our world where it is dark. It is a much needed element for transportation, communication and electronics. On a global scale it was the bedrock for the all industrial activities. Fortunately, energy is abundantly available in renewable sources such as solar, wind, hydro, biomass and even in sources which were unable to draw from at this stage, such as lightning. Energy is also available from non-renewable sources such as coal used for fossil fuelled power plants, oil transformed into fuel for transport, natural gas used as a heat source in many developed countries and uranium which forms the fundamental element for a nuclear power station. Unfortunately, our non-renewable sources would eventually run out and many of these sources result in increasing concentrations of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere contributing towards concerning environmental effects such as global warming.

Sunlight is earth’s primary source of energy and it is abundantly available. Renewable energies dependent on the sun require us to gather the energy produced over large areas As a result, the use of such renewable energies requires significant new approaches for collection and distribution, and a sophisticated approach to land utilisation.

“The use of renewable biological materials as energy sources is an area of increasing focus. Plants cover the earth profusely and, using energy provided by the sun, convert carbon dioxide and water into useful organic compounds on a truly massive scale. To take advantage of this fecundity to effectively and sustainably provide a significant source of our energy needs without degrading other aspects of our environment will require diligent work to understand the scale of effort involved, the nature of the plants themselves, and how to conduct large-scale agriculture and forestry in the most environmentally responsible manner.”