ENERGY MIX NEEDS A SPEEDY RESOLUTION
BEHIND the scenes in the energy industry, there is a major spat between advocates of nuclear, coal and those who are rooting for renewable energy in South Africa.
Advocates of renewables are adamant there should be no energy mix, and that renewable or “green energy” is the only alternative for the future supply of energy in this country.
Those who are advocating for coal and nuclear to be the primary drivers of energy are calling for an energy mix, where all forms of energy supply are given an equal measure of resources.
The arguments and counterarguments from both sides are compelling, which makes it near impossible to adopt one absolute position, especially when taking the developmental dynamics of South Africa into account.
As we stand, South Africa is in the economic doldrums as a result of an insufficient supply of energy. South Africa’s energy crisis has resulted in the loss of jobs across a wide range of sectors.
Energy is the backbone of the South African economy and, whether we like it or not, the investment into South Africa’s energy sector needs to be diverse.
In April, Energy Minister Jeff Radebe fast-tracked the signing of the 27 independent power producers (IPP) worth an estimated R1.4 trillion.
Some economists and energy experts who are against this move claim that the signing of the 27 IPPS are set to benefit companies with close ties to the president’s family and close-knit circle of friends who have interests in renewable energy.
This is further compounded by the fact that Radebe, in his capacity as energy minister, has refused to divulge the names and directors of the companies that are going to benefit from the IPPS.
South Africa has a looming energy crisis of which, according to various experts in the field, by 2030 the country will have just around 20GW (gigawatt) if not less of electricity-generation capacity.
According to available data,
South Africa is going to lose about 25GW of power-generation capacity from the grid.
Information from the South African Energy Forum contends that by the year 2045, Eskom’s generation capacity will be almost zero and insignificant, because all the power plants will be out of service with only one nuclear station left, and most of the power plants having been decommissioned.
Eskom is said to be paying for power it does not need and is allegedly paying R93 million a day to the IPPS for energy it does not need, which will amount to about R34 billion a year.
If Eskom revealed the total kwh for the full year 2017 and the first six months of this year from renewable wind and solar IPPS it “actually” absorbed to the grid and supplied to consumers versus the total kwh it paid them, it would show that Eskom paid for something it did not need.
It is important that the country remains part of the global community’s commitment to reducing carbon emissions.
You cannot improve the environment by damaging the economy.
But if South Africa’s energy needs are not addressed effectively with a balanced mix of energy supply, we can kiss the economy goodbye and say hello to political and socioeconomic turmoil.