A first in SA: Unearthed Switches To Solar

This blog post comes to you from an office proudly powered by the sun!

The ever enterprising Zootee Studios, the powerhouse behind Unearthed, has recently completed the installation of solar panels with the help of Southern Sun Solar.  This is one of the first grid-tie solar projects in South Africa and Zootee is the first solar-powered film studio in the country. With Eskom recently announcing a 16% tariff increase and concerns around climate change reach boiling point, Zootee Studios welcomes this significant shift and joins growing international investment in the renewable sector.

The Middle East is actively pursuing renewable energy:  Quatar has just announced a solar target of 1.8 GW by 2014; Djibouti anticipates 100% renewable energy by 2030 and Saudi Arabia is aiming for 41 GW of solar by 2032. With plans to transition to renewables entirely, Prince Turki of the Saudi Royal Family has stated that Saudi Arabia‘s oil reserves may be better put to use in devotion to the manufacture of materials such as polymers, plastics and fertilisers rather than simply being used for fuel and that the transition to large scale renewable generation could facilitate this. Prince Turki recently announced:

“Oil is more precious for us underground than as a fuel source. If we can get to the point where we can replace fossil fuels and use oil to produce other products that are useful, that would be very good for the world.”

Similarly, Laith al-Mamury of the Iraqi Ministry of Electricity remarked: “It is true that we are an oil country, but we should save oil for the coming generation not only sell it or burn it.” As such, Iraq, a country with an ailing electricity grid, is set to invest $1.6 billion in solar and wind power over the next three years.

In Europe, Denmark is already one fifth of the way to energy independence on solar energy while it plans to be running entirely on renewable sources by 2050. Scotland has set the same goal. Germany is has broken records and already harness renewable sources for 25% of its energy needs. Germany has also successfully decentralized its energy feed with three quarters of the investment coming from small private investors.  The generation capacity of 20 nuclear plants has been provided by small-scale investors and citizen-led cooperatives becoming the country’s “renewable energy revolutionaries“. While South Africa is caught depending sorely on one national power utility, in Germany, energy is distributed across the country, from the Black Forest to the Baltic coast, with over a million people involved as energy producers or investors in energy production. This dispersion — shifts in power from top to bottom, from the center to the peripheries — have enormous implications for German democracy because the enormous public investment wants to see the “Energiewende” succeed.

While shifting to cleaner energy is no overnight switch and requires considerable investment and infrastructure development, it seems clear that global attention is shifting away from fossil fuel systems. Unearthed is immensely proud to harness the sun’s energy for post-production and be a part of the renewable energy revolution in South Africa. As Bloomberg recently reported, solar power is ready, we just need the political will to enable the important transition.