Indaba focuses on green energy, e-mobility
Life as we know it, especially with regards to energy and electricity, is about to change irrevocably.
This was the scenario sketched by Dr Hildegard Fast, lead: energy security game changer of the Western Cape Provincial Energy Security Unit at the recent Mossel Bay Energy Indaba, hosted by the Mossel Bay Municipality.
With the steady decline in fossil fuel, the need for environmentally sound and sustainable green energy solutions, and the rapid developments in the alternative energy field, the municipality realised the need to focus on renewable energy.
"Mossel Bay Municipality is open for business," the municipal manager, Adv Thys Giliomee told delegates to the Energy Indaba.
"The municipality must do more than just create an environment conducive for local economic development, we have to expand our facilitating role by bringing stakeholders together and by being an enabler."
The future today
Setting the scene, Dr Fast sketched a futuristic scenario of electric cars and a technologically driven everyday life - only the sketch was for only a number of years into the future, within the lifespan of most of the delegates present. She said the future includes greater digitalisation with automated communications and operations, much of it driven from hand held sets such as cellular phones. Electrical vehicles, with smart charging options will become the norm. New, cheaper energy technologies such as solar and wind energy will make fossil fuel redundant over time as energy efficiency and storage improves. Ultimately, to remain relevant, municipalities, companies and individuals will be in a position to provide their own energy.
Ultimately, she said the aim is to have large diversified energy source with a wheeling policy that can assist in overcoming regulatory complexities. "If municipal electricity prices increase at the same rate as Eskom, off-grid systems become more realistic for customers due to improved business case," Dr Fast said. Municipalities should heed the fact that their income from the sale of electricity is no more a given as solar energy will become one of the cheapest sources of energy in South Africa, and solar photovoltaic uptake will continue to increase. She also accentuated the need for sustainable, low carbon diversified energy mix, also at local government level to allow for economic growth unconstrained by electricity disruptions.
Utilities, she said will need to adapt to fit into new energy landscape.
The municipal spatial planner, Jaco Roux explained to delegates that the municipality's approved spatial development framework allows for initiatives to embrace the move towards more sustainable energy solutions.
Several other speakers highlighted innovations in, among others, electrical vehicles and progress being made with the N2 solar vehicle charging stations, the sustainability of PetroSA, and an interesting project to reintroduce spekboom into overgrazed areas in Vanwyksdorp.
This project, initiated in 2015, has since grown to employ 60 previously unemployed, uneducated workers - creating an income for 65% of the homes in the area. In addition, the project has invested in food gardens for the community.
Advocate De Villiers Botha said electromobility, known as e-mobility, is already a viable alternative to the internal combustion engine. He added, though, that a mixture of technologies is needed.
In his concluding remarks, the facilitator Prof Erwin Schwella of the University of Stellenbosch congratulated the Mossel Bay Municipality for being innovative in creating a stable environment and opportunities for energy efficient companies to establish businesses in the greater municipal area.
He added that work on the establishment of a strategic economic zone for Mossel Bay is well under way.
Dr Fast in discussion with Ajay Trikam of the Department of Economic Development and Tourism, the municipal director of technical services, Dick Naidoo and the municipal chief financial officer, Dawood Asmal.
André Britz of the Spekkies Project in Vanwyksdorp (left) in discussion with Barry Jacobs of the House of Khoi in Great Brak River and the municipal IDP manager, George van der Westhuizen.
The municipal manager, Advocate Thys Giliomee, welcomed delegates to the Energy Indaba.