Government's openness to renewable energy does not indicate the immediate demise of coal powered energy, Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources Gwede Mantashe told delegates at a wind energy summit in Cape Town this week.
The Windaba 2019 summit, which kicked off on Tuesday morning, came amid speculation around the energy mix, due to be announced in the upcoming long-term plan for energy generation. At the summit the minister said that this long-term plan for energy generation would be sent to Cabinet next week.
Mantashe has in the past urged coal miners to "protect" their industry as it was "under siege". On Tuesday he told delegates there was no need to "kill old technologies in order to allow you to grow".
Mantashe: The economy is going to collapse if electricity remains this expensive
He said finding diverse energy solutions would make South Africa more competitive in attracting investors looking to produce goods with added value.
"We are losing opportunities to beneficiate in areas such as manganese because our energy offering to investors is not competitive or cost effective. We need to build our energy capacity and invest in new infrastructure build. It must begin now and not after we decommission old projects," he said.
Mantashe said there was room in rural areas, not only to build projects and infrastructure in the renewable space, but also to supply clean and affordable energy for rural households that perform only some household functions with the use of electricity.