“Fortunately for South Africa, we have among the best solar energy resources in the world, in addition to coal, which makes it logical for us to pursue the exploitation of photovoltaic technologies,” he said.
“In addition, we have abundant shale gas resources, the commercial exploitation of which we have to investigate and pursue.”
Speaking at the Green Economy National Youth Summit in Cape Town, Motlanthe said the country’s uranium deposits were too sizeable to ignore from a beneficiation perspective.
“If this is coupled with the potential for regional interconnection within the Southern African Development Community sub-region, we have the potential to be one of the fastest-growing economic hubs in the world.”
He said the focus would be on environmentally balanced and sustainable energy resources.
Motlanthe listed some of the options available to ensure the country’s energy security while adding economic benefits.
One of these was solar power, which held “enormous potential” for regional development in the Northern Cape.
There was also potential for “positive economic spin-offs” from the accelerated exploration of shale gas in the Karoo, as well as from diplomatic efforts to harness the natural gas discoveries in Mozambique and Tanzania.
Another option was the pursuit of a knowledge economy through the beneficiation of uranium, and a nuclear programme.
He said heavy reliance in the past on coal as an energy source had resulted in limited rural development.
“[It has resulted in] skewed economic development, with the urban areas and the coalfield areas enjoying better infrastructure, while other rural areas have yet to attain access to modern energy carriers,” he said.
The country had since adjusted its energy objectives to ensure diversified sources, security, cost minimisation, increased access, reduced emissions, water conservation and localisation of energy value chains.
“Accordingly, our energy planning framework seeks to maximise the economic benefits of our electricity, gas and liquid fuels infrastructure development programmes, [while] at the same time… meeting the other set objectives.” – SAPA