Mon. Oct 21st, 2019

Energy month 2019: South Africa in need of solutions to stave off energy crisis

Eskom load shedding todayMay is National Energy Month in South Africa and the government urges commercial and residential users to help find solutions to the country’s energy crisis.

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While the failings of Eskom are well documented, the government calls on industrial energy consumers to commit to maintenance as optimizing their practices could ensure that they limit any unnecessary electricity use.

While much of the emphasis with load shedding and drives to reduce usage has targeted household consumers, a 2017 report prepared for Eskom shows that residential usage accounts for just 23% of total electricity usage.

Private sector remains a cause for concern

Mining and manufacturing make up 60% of energy usage, despite only accounting for 22% of GDP. It is obviously in the best interest of the environment, and everyone involved, that we are more prudent about our electricity usage.

However, the real problem is that not enough capacity has been planned to sustain the current economic activities in the private sector let alone a growing one.

It is good to see that for once the government has started National Energy Month, calling on the private sector to come to the table and ensure that they aren’t overburdening the grid through poor planning, maintenance and processes.

Possible long term solutions to alleviate the effects of the energy crisis could include making it easier for independent power producers to contribute to the existing infrastructure as no significant increase in power generation is likely in the medium term.

Eksom’s plan to decommission power plants

Eskom have already confirmed that despite having plans to get Medupi and Kusile power plants operational, these will come at a substantial cost. This is over and above the excessive amounts they’ve already exceeded their budgeted cost by.

These plants will go online as several existing plants become due to be decommissioned. It’s hard to see how Eskom will deal with the increasing consumer and industrial demand. It will be forced to turn to independent power suppliers.

Increasing supply from external providers while stabilizing the existing grid and investing heavily in maintenance can create a stable base. It will hopefully reduce load-shedding and ultimately renew investor confidence.

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