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Can renewable energy drive economic development?

In South Africa, large-scale renewables facilities are going up in places that haven’t previously enjoyed that many economic opportunities. 

“If developing countries are to lift their people out of poverty they need reliable and affordable sources of energy,” says Justin Wimbush, Arup’s renewable energy leader in South Africa. 

“Fossil fuels are increasingly being challenged by cost-effective renewables in a world that requires greater self-sufficiency.” 

Despite the fact that South Africa has extremely good wind and solar resources, as recently as 2010 the public power utility Eskom generated more than 90% of the country’s electricity from coal. South Africa’s experiences of shifting towards renewable energy could point the way for others in a continent where centralised, state-owned power utilities have been the norm, but have tended to limit rather than enable much needed economic and societal growth. 

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