Why primary energy is still king

Primary energy is simply “raw unprocessed and free energy” we extract from nature (Lars Schernikau)

Primary energy is simply “raw unprocessed and free energy” we extract from nature (Lars Schernikau)
Discussions about the use of the primary energy metric have emerged as “renewables” such as wind and solar make up a larger share of electricity but a lower share of primary energy, as you can see in Figure 1. Some economists consider primary energy outdated and misleading because they consider that “primary energy” from solar and wind can be converted to usable electricity with little energy losses.

Coal’s importance for solar panel manufacturing

Coal and solar panels

So why are coal and solar so closely interlinked? Why is it that solar panel manufacturing is impossible without coal?
So why are coal and solar so closely interlinked? Why is it that solar panel manufacturing is impossible without coal?
In this blog post you will see how important uninterrupted power supply is, especial for industrial processes such as silicon smelting. Obviously, this power comes from coal in China, and cannot come from wind or solar. Let’s dig deeper.

Energy Trilemma

Wind and solar power. The ‘Energy Trilemma’ And The Cost Of Electricity

Why “Renewables” cannot save but cost billions. Over the last 150 years, abundant electricity from coal and gas led to an unprecedented reduction in poverty, as well as an increase in longevity and health. Currently, these low cost, reliable power sources generate approximately 60% of electricity and 50% of primary energy worldwide. Primarily due to climate change concerns, coal and gas fuels are now slowly replaced by ‘renewables’, such as wind and solar based energy. But this comes with a cost.

Poverty, peace, health, education, and the environment should have our highest attention and are short of funds. We should divert investment from wind, solar and hydrogen and/or batteries to where the money will make a genuine positive impact to our environment and economies. For a truly long-term sustainable, energy dense future, in addition to more R&D and fission/fusion, we should invest in building/upgrading to newest high efficiency thermal power plants and installing up-to-date filter systems, globally.

Advantages of Nuclear Energy


The world’s first nuclear power plant started operation near Moscow in 1954. The following decades saw hundreds of nuclear reactors being built around the world, with the United States, France, and China leading the build-out, making up about half of today’s global installations. About 90 per cent of today’s operating nuclear reactors were built during the 1970s and 1980s, with a global average reactor age of about 32 years. Apparently over 90 per cent of US reactors received extensions to operate up to 60 years.
The world hosts about 420 GW of installed nuclear capacity, expected to rise to about 620 GW by 2050. Thus, today about 5 per cent of a total of 8.6 TW of installed power capacity is nuclear. The over 400 nuclear reactors contributed almost 10 per cent of global electricity generation of about 29,000 TWh in 2022 (Figure 1). (Only about 40 per cent of global primary energy of over 170,000 TWh is used to generate electricity; the other 60 per cent is used for industry, heating, and transport.)
Read about the advantages of nuclear energy

South Africa Electricity

Coal is globally, and certainly for South Africa, the most important source of power. The commodity is required for almost every product and structure that we see around us and use every single day, either directly or indirectly. There is virtually no machine, cement, steel, aluminum, building, car, computer, iPhone, or even a solar panel or windmill that can be created without coal.
South Africa should rather embrace good old King Coal as part of its energy future by supporting investments to improve environmental and economic efficiencies. In a global context, coal has enormous value. The fuel, originating from plants that date back millions of years, retains its position as the most important source of electricity, constituting about 36% in 2023, and the second most crucial source of primary energy, accounting for approximately 25% share in 2023. As the graph below shows, its absolute volumes continue to set new records almost every year, despite a slight reduction in the global share of coal.