In four short years, South Africa’s energy infrastructure has undergone a dramatic evolution, with renewable energy quickly replacing traditional coal-fired power. In 2007, construction began on two new coal-fired power stations with a combined capacity of 9.6 gigawatts, The plants were due to come online in 2011, with a combined price tag of US$9.8 billion cost. As of this year, the plants are still not completed and their cost has ballooned to US$21 billion, more than double the original estimate. In the four years since the plants overshot their delivery date, however, renewable energy has burst onto the scene, changing the face of South Africa’s s energy future. Almost 2.5 GW of renewables have been added to the grid and the cost of solar and wind energy has gone from being uncompetitive with coal to being significantly cheaper. The country’s utility-scale renewable energy program currently has nearly 100 new plants at various stages of development. Meanwhile, once-ambitious plans for an expansion of nuclear power have sunk under their own weight. With the cost of a fleet of proposed nuclear plants that would have added 9.6 GW of capacity soaring to as much as US$ 93 billion – not even including additional future costs for decommissioning and handling waste – the state has put plans for what would have been South Africa’s biggest infrastructure project even on hold.
– via CleanTechnica