I have been to South Africa. It was both a thrilling and, I must say, extremely depressing experience—what I call emotional whiplash. I have never seen such poverty, and yet, the possibilities seem endless if the New South Africa can just grab the brass ring of economic and resource development.
I bring this up because S. Africa is the richest sub Saharan country and yet the poverty there is bone crushing, so I can only imagine the human misery found in rest of the continent. And now, GWH threatens the ability of African nations to get out of the quick sand of destitution by forcing them to refrain from developing their resources and infrastructure, all in the name of “saving the planet,” of course.
The quid pro quo is that developed nations are to transfer hundreds of billions to the poor countries, in essence, a bribe to keep from fully exploiting the bounteous resources of the continent. How much of that will actually be used for its stated purposes? We have enough experience with aid to know. Moreover, dependency harms culture. People thrive the more they can be self reliant.
The answer for the tragedy of Africa is development, which leads to stable cultures and the rule of law. That means, among other things, electrifying the continent. And that means using (mostly) fossil fuels or nuclear power—both anathema to radical environmentalists. From a very good column by pro nuke engineer Kelvin Kemm, “Renewables Not the Solution for Africa:”
So, for us living here in Africa, what perspective must we contemplate? Why should some African children have to do their school homework by candlelight when children in Europe and north America use electric light? African families are entitled to look forward to a modern future for themselves and their descendants. What this implies is that Africa is going to use much more electricity than is being used now. Some African countries are only 5% or 10% electrified. For meaningful economic and social development, they must rapidly double their electricity use, and then double it again, and again.
How is that disputable if we care about the welfare and lives of our African brothers and sisters? But renewables cannot get the job done:
How will this electricity be produced?
Some African countries are endowed with fossil fuels, but most are not. Those countries that do have fossil fuels will use them one way or another. Those that do not will have to find another answer. They will have to find an answer that is realistic and works. Such an answer is compact nuclear reactors that generate 200 MW or less. Wind and solar are not the answer. Wind and solar have their place in the African context but it is not in the large-scale production of baseload electricity.
It is one thing to be a European country and to have wind energy making up, say, 10% of the national electricity mix it is a totally different story to expect African countries to plan for wind and solar to make up most of the countries’ electricity production. These sources are just too variable and intermittent to be a country’s prime source of supply.
Africa should be able to do whatever it takes to lift its people into a better way of life:
Of course, all fossil fuel development should be as efficient and as clean as modern technology allows for. In many African countries, even the building of modern fossil fuel power stations will reduce the amount of CO2 and other gases and particulates emitted into the atmosphere.
Why this apparent contradiction? Simple: there are millions of people who now cook and heat their homes using wood or dung fires because they have no electricity. These wood and dung fires are very polluting and unhealthy. If they were replaced by electrical stoves and heaters, even using electricity produced by a modern fossil fuel electricity plant, the net effect on atmospheric emissions should be very positive.
Well, of course we should make efficient and clean power plants, but the last comment was just special pleading and pandering to a radical ideology. It doesn’t matter whether electrifying Africa would increase or decrease CO2 emissions. For the sake of human welfare, it needs to be done urgently and ASAP.
Here’s the bottom line: In the 21st century, no one should have to heat a hovel by dung-fueled fire. Everyone should have ready access to electricty. All should have readiliy available potable water, which also often requires electricity for treatment plants. People should not have to live in squalor. And that takes development, which requires electricity, which involves exploitation of resources, which results in the emission of CO2—GWH, “rights of nature” and “ecocide,” be damned.