Times of Eswatini
EEC sees silver lining in heavy rains
EZULWINI – Every cloud has its silver lining.
This saying best describes the remarks by Eswatini Electricity Company ( EEC) Managing Director ( MD) Ernest Mkhonta during the launch of the 2023 Earth Hour and Symposium.
The 2023 Earth Hour will be observed on March 25, 2023 between 8: 30pm and 9: 30pm. The Earth Hour was launched by the Acting Minister of Natural Resources and Energy Jabulani Mabuza at Sibane Sami Hotel yesterday.
The launch was also combined with a symposium on critical elements for renewable energy transition, where stakeholders engaged on how the country could produce renewable energy, among others. In his remarks, Mkhonta said some of the results of climate change were the rains that were experienced in the country. The rains left a trail of destruction in many areas in the country, northern Lubombo and Hhohho regions in particular.
Despite the trail of destruction, the MD said the rains were a blessing to their power generation. “It may sound too contradictory, but as EEC we appreciate some of the rains that come through. They increase river flows, which hike the storage of our water in the dams,” he said.
The MD noted that the mode of power generation in the country was hydroelectricity, adding that rains increased water levels in their dams, leading to their storages being able to generate power for longer hours.
He said in normal cases, they generated electricity for five hours daily, but the overflowing water in dams enabled them to generate beyond peak times. “If we were to generate power throughout the day, the water storage that we have would not last more than a year. To stretch this water storage throughout the year, we generate for five hours but during periods of excessive rains, we generate throughout the week,” he said.
Wort noting is that Eswatini’s biggest supplier of electricity, Eskom in South Africa, is implementing load- shedding.
Mkhonta mentioned that the total dependency on Eskom and the current load- shedding in South Africa had a huge impact on Eswatini’s electricity supply, hence the need to scale up on renewables and be self- sufficient.
On the other hand, the rains were not good for some of EEC’s infrastructure and its customers. Mkhonta highlighted that due to slippery roads, some areas were inaccessible, which left most of their customers without power supply.
“Heavy rainfall is posing a serious threat; access to some of our customers is a challenge for maintenance and restoration of outages. Cumulative climate change risks in the past few days have translated to economic, social and safety risks for the public and livestock,” he said.
Adding, he called for joint efforts to address climate change. He said when addressing cli mate change i ssues, two major challenges needed to be addressed.
He highlighted that the country had an electricity access rate of 78 per cent for households and there was a need to ensure the remaining 12 per cent had access to affordable, reliable and sustainable energy, which is a prerequisite for economic growth, employment and poverty reduction and for quality education and healthcare.
Further, he noted that the country had a power generation deficit of about 70 per cent. “Our demand as a country is 240MW and it is anticipated to grow by 2030. As an organisation we are able to generate 20 per cent of power, which is mainly renewables from our hydropower and solar generation plant. The rest of the power is sourced from the Southern African Power Pool ( SAPP) and a huge percentage is mostly from South Africa,” he said.