From leader to los­ing out

Glob­ally, in­vest­ment shows that clean re­new­able en­ergy is the fu­ture but Eskom and fac­tions in govern­ment seem hell-bent on mak­ing South Africa pur­sue nu­clear en­ergy.

Finweek English Edition - - COVER RENEWABLES - By Lloyd Gedye

south Africa’s en­ergy sec­tor is fac­ing un­cer­tainty and tur­moil, which ap­pears to be di­rectly re­lated to the cur­rent po­lit­i­cal cri­sis the coun­try is deal­ing with. Eskom’s Brian Molefe fea­tured promi­nently in Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor Thuli Madon­sela’s State of Cap­ture re­port, which in­ves­ti­gated the in­flu­ence the Gupta fam­ily has on the pres­i­dent, a num­ber of min­is­ters and state-owned en­ti­ties (SOEs). Molefe has since fallen on his sword and will be leav­ing the util­ity at the end of De­cem­ber, and Madon­sela has left the of­fice of the Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor af­ter her term ended.

How­ever, the State of Cap­ture re­port re­mains a po­lit­i­cal foot­ball be­ing kicked around and Eskom ap­pears in­tent on pur­su­ing nu­clear en­ergy, de­spite de­part­ment of en­ergy (DOE) pol­icy de­lay­ing the need for nu­clear to 2037. Other aca­demic stud­ies have pushed this back as far as 2040, or sug­gested nu­clear is not needed at all.

Crit­ics be­lieve fac­tions of govern­ment are push­ing the nu­clear pro­gramme, which is ex­pected to cost bil­lions, as it will pro­vide op­por­tu­ni­ties for en­rich­ment sim­i­lar to the arms deal.

The power util­ity’s head of gen­er­a­tion, Mat­shela Koko, who has been ap­pointed as act­ing CEO to re­place Molefe, has made pub­lic state­ments that sug­gest noth­ing has changed in Eskom’s hunger for nu­clear.

Although he has stated that the paras­tatal is not “mar­ried” to nu­clear, he has in­sisted that Eskom will con­tinue to pur­sue it and that the power util­ity could pay for the nu­clear build pro­gramme from its own cash re­serves. He stated that this would amount to R150bn in 10 years’ time.

Global ex­pan­sion of re­new­ables

How­ever, while Eskom ad­vo­cates for nu­clear, glob­ally in­vest­ment is shift­ing Act­ing CEO of Eskom

Mat­shela Koko

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