This post originates from discussions currently under way for this year’s 8th annual Energy Africa Conference here in Colorado. This will be my 3rd year attending, and I feel very honored to join the organizational committee for this year’s conference.
The topic we are trying to address, “What are the barriers to [US] investment and partnerships in Africa?” To which we have all agreed there is a topic needing discussion, but it has been passed up in years prior, because it is as they say, “controversial.”
Gentlemen, yes I agree in premise about not wanting to incite any ill-will amongst attendees and understand this is a delicate topic, but The Elephants are in the room and few want to broach what everyone recognizes anyways – that The Elephants ARE in the room.
Within the context of South African energy development, and less so within the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), I often find myself being misunderstood as to the role coal plays within the energy economy.
I recognize, on the surface, many observers and colleagues alike, may gather an impression I am advocating for the unequivocal closure of all coal assets and the direct economies they support. Nothing could be further from the truth, and although my knowledge and experiences tell me, coal’s impacts on the global climate are negative, with dire human and economic consequences, I have long since passed the days of being an ‘environmental crusader’, motivated by heart, not facts and reality.
Ending all coal fired electric generation tomorrow, if this was my position, would be pushing for the closure of currently operational power stations and ceasing the capital flow of hemorrhaging new builds under construction, struggling to meet project deadlines and cost projections. My pragmatism steers me clear of any designs that risk a near certain economic collapse regardless some “ideal energy world” I may dream up.