With unemployment being a familiar affliction of our age, it is believed that aside the economic gains and benefits derived from the usage of renewable energy, such as solar, the sector can generate thousands of jobs.
In the world of today, which is characterized by globalization, the unemployment issue has become a worldwide problem, which affects both developed and developing countries such as South Africa. The challenges that face South Africa are more, as unemployment is the root of many other problems that face us on a daily basis, such as increased poverty, crime, political and social instability, drug abuse and many more.
Renewable energy is generated from sunlight, wind, rain, tides, and geothermal heat, which are renewed or replenished naturally.
Each of these renewable energy sources has unique characteristics which influence how and where it is used. In 2006, about 18 per cent of the global final energy consumption came from renewable energy, with 13 per cent coming from traditional biomass, which is mainly used for heating, and three per cent from hydroelectricity.
Renewable energy projects in many developing countries have demonstrated that it can contribute to poverty alleviation by providing the energy needed for creating businesses and employment.
It is stated that, with renewable energy, a lot can change in the world we live in, and the Government of South Africa occupies a central position in the global debate regarding the most effective policy instruments to accelerate and sustain private investment in renewable energy.
The Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Program (REIPPPP), has successfully channeled substantial private sector expertise and investment into grid-connected renewable energy in South Africa at competitive prices. To date, a total of 64 projects have been awarded to the private sector, and the first projects are already on line. Private sector investment totaling US$14 billion has been committed, and these projects will generate 3922 megawatt (MW) of renewable power.
A recent report released by the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21stCentury (REN21) shows that each year, various countries are seeing progressively more renewable energy generated than the last.
Looking at the economic impact of renewables in 2014, the REN21 report says that over the course of the year worldwide, 7.7 million jobs were created mostly in the Chinese solar power production.
Interestingly, developing nations in Africa particularly are rapidly shifting towards wind and solar energy production. This is an area Nigeria needs to key into. Recent studies have showed that Nigeria is not actively participating in the renewable energy boom in Africa.
According to 2015 Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) world fact book, Nigeria ranks 68 on the global electricity production chart with an annual production of 25,700,000,000 kilowatt/hour (Kwh) as at 2010 compared to South Africa which was ranked 16 with a 2012 estimation of 257,900,000,000 kwh.
Renewable energy is not an entirely new concept, but it is an alternative to fossil fuels.
Investigation reveals that job creation via local production and/or installation, operation and maintenance of solar power plants is huge because solar is more work intensive than conventional technologies and, hence, creates more jobs.
The way forward, worldwide, is renewable energy.