But there are only so many energy-storage related puns, so I’ll finish with some further thoughts from the week.
As Julia and I continued our travels we found South Africa to be a beautiful country, but one that still has some way to go to recover from its turbulent past. There are many issues of inequality and deprivation that need addressing; the traditional approach to tackling this through accelerating economic growth perhaps inevitably pushes climate change down the agenda.
The South African Government has commissioned climate change reports and these acknowledge the risk that climate change presents. For South Africa, the risk of extended droughts and more intense storms and floods and the effect of increasing evaporation rates are noted as key concerns. Despite this, our safari guide, when asked whether they thought climate change might be contributing to the 4-year drought, didn’t seem to have considered it at all.
It seems that there is a need to change the perspective on renewable energy and other climate change-mitigating measures. Our Eskom representative during the week acknowledged that renewables were now cheaper than fossil fuels and that was why independent power producers in the state were building such plants. The African continent has much to offer in natural resources to enable the transition to a near-zero carbon economy; whether it’s solar and wind resources or minerals and rare-earth metals for batteries. There is a huge opportunity to embrace this transition, leap-frog already industrialised nations and deliver improvements in living conditions and wellbeing to its population. Perhaps our most challenging task is to enable developing countries to see a different path to the future than that taken by ourselves; one that can deliver better living standards and happiness across the population without further damage to the ecosystem we must all live within?