As we work to revamp the South African economy, we have to look at the competitive advantages we have versus competing countries. Of course, we look at our infrastructure, the connections to Sub-Saharan Africa, our many strong African businesses, our rule of law and institutions. The tourism sector points to our beautiful country and hospitable population. I think we should also look up and recognize that our sunshine can be a real source of competitive advantage.
In the past we built industrial and mining positions on the availability of mining deposits in combination with cheap energy. That cheap energy was generated by cheap high-quality coal in our ground. The concentrated deposit of millions of years of sunshine. Today our power is not cheap anymore. But our sunshine is still superior to many places in the world.
Solar Resource Map – Direct Normal Irradiation
South Africa stands out amongst developed economies in our intensity and availability of sunshine. Scientists use the metric of solar irradiance to compare countries. And South Africa stands out. Just look at the above map of sunshine created by the Worldbank. The darker orange/red the country the more energy the sun provides. South Africa, Australia and southern states of the USA stand out. Some parts of RSA get 3 times as much energy from the sun then Germany. That should (and does) translate into solar energy being 3 times cheaper.
Since solar energy will be the leading source of energy in the future, South Africa has a new source of competitive advantage readily available to benefit from.
It is a pity though, that South Africa is slow to adopt solar power and that we are far behind Germany and China. But there is no need to stay behind. If South Africa would embrace solar energy, we could once again be a cost leader in energy and fuel our economic growth.
That is why we founded Sosimple Energy. We bring cheap clean energy to South African businesses.