South Africa Going Green – All Talk No Walk?

In September 2018, Minister Molewa said in a lecture presented to Tsinghua University that South Africa had successfully launched an efficient and integrated Bus Rapid Transport System. This involved the fleet of the City of Tshwane in Gauteng using CNG and the City of Johannesburg implementing a dual system for their bus network with a combination of Diesel and CNG. In 2017, Vehicle Gas Solutions converted a total of 399 vehicles consisting of buses, trucks and automobiles for the City of Johannesburg’s divisions: JRA, City Power, JMPD, Johannesburg Water and Metro Bus. This certainly was a big step in the right direction! As an example, only 40 TRT buses are running on Natural Gas, and they are making significant savings every month. The difference in price between Petrol and Natural Gas is approximately R10.00/litre.

Is South Africa making progress?

Developing countries such as South Africa, while eager to get involved to go greener with alternative energy, lag because of the lack of coordinated efforts and executing initiatives haphazardly. What about taking a leaf out of first-world alternative fuel successes? For instance, Oxford County is a municipality in Ontario, Canada, which in 2015 passed a motion to commit to 100% renewable energy by 2050. But it hasn’t been all just talk. With exhaust emissions from trucks, buses, and cars being major contributors to greenhouse gas, exploring what the county could do to lessen its impact was and remains a top priority.

It was estimated that Ontario’s municipal fleets, including transit, contributed approximately 43% of Oxford County’s Canada’s estimated 1.74 metric tonnes of municipal fleet emissions. Something had to be done. In 2017 the municipality launched the “Green Fleet Plan” which involved optimizing efficiency, increasing the use of alternative fuels and sustainable technologies. CNG was the first port of call in executing this plan, as it offers indisputable environmental benefits over Petrol or

Diesel. The County’s snowploughs, as the highest greenhouse gas emitter of the County’s fleet as well as pick-up trucks (bakkies to you and I), which make up a majority of the County’s fleet were converted to CNG vehicles to make an impact on fleet emissions.

Achieving our Goals

How can South Africa get there? Firstly, the government needs to reduce CO2 emissions by formulating a clear plan to promote low carbonization in the country’s economic development. Secondly, support and promote resource efficiency across the board and get South Africans aware of and invested in greening their country. As an accessible and implementable alternative fuel, CNG is an easy and obvious choice for both big businesses and local municipalities. Compressed Natural Gas is an energy solution for not just the way we move, but to bring reliable, clean energy to our very own doorsteps.


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