Eskom leaving us in the dark: The extent of its rot
Five years of blackouts and an 18 0 0 0MW short fall in electricity supply by 2030. That is what South Africa has to look forward to, according to the South African I nstit ute of Race Relations (SAIRR).
Recent boardroom shenanigans at Eskom, where four executives – including the CEO – were suspended, reinforced the extent of the energy crisis facing SA, the chaos at Eskom head office and government’s continued lack of understanding of the extent of the crisis. It is now investigating issues like cost overruns and delays, things it should be acutely aware of by now.
As expected, the SAIRR calls for privatisation to help solve the crisis. But so far this year, a number of events show that government’s dilly-dallying has largely killed the chance to embark on private partnerships.
So far this year, Anglo American indicated that it was looking at selling its local coal business and BHP Billiton has started the demerger of its local coal assets. Shell recently scaled down its local presence citing low energy prices and years-long government delays in issuing shale gas exploration licences.
All of these make a mockery of what was supposedly a serious attempt by government, through its Integrated Resources Plan ( IRP), to ensure that the country could work itself out of the energy crisis. Apart from the Medupi and Kusile power stations, which are under construction but are both long overdue and hugely over budget, government seems to have no plan.
In fact, just about the only thing that is still on the agenda appears to be a top-secret nuclear plan, which is in direct contradiction to the IRP, which proposed delaying nuclear. The redraft of the IRP, that was due early last year, has still not been released.
Eskom may struggle to rely on some of its major coal suppliers. Anglo CEO Mark Cutifani said earlier this year that the group may sell its South African coal business. “We are responding to both the government requirements to have more than 50% in local hands and, from our point of view, the domestic supply has been a good business, but it is not major in the portfolio.”
BHP Billiton is demerging some assets including coal mines in SA.
Last week, Shell announced that it is deferring shale gas exploration in SA due to lower energy prices and because it has waited unsuccessfully for years for government to issue exploration licences
MATONA HAD TOLD A BUSINESS CONTINGENT “ONE UNEXPECTED EVENT” COULD RESULT IN ESKOM LOSING CONTROL AND THAT IT COULD TAKE UP TO TWO WEEKS TO RESTART THE GRID.
As Eskom struggles to keep the lights on...