Current distributed energy generation developments are set to reduce electricity costs by up to 90% for the average household, states African Utility Week guest speaker and advisory board member Ted Blom.

Blom, an independent energy expert, explained that the issues facing South Africa in 2017 included the fact that surplus electricity in the system was growing, exacerbated by the 14% decline in demand.

And electricity prices were still set to increase, despite the recent Nersa ruling capping increases at 5.3% as Eskom is allowed to claim back for past costs between 2013 and 2017.

Distributed energy warning

According to Blom, who will be addressing delegates at the 18th African Utility Week conference in Cape Town in May 2018, industry developments are set to reduce electricity costs by up to 90% for the average household.

“South Africa and the world is at the precipice of revolutionary developments in energy generation and distribution, and the next 5 -10 years will render such dramatic changes that today’s energy supply chain will not be recognisable, especially with the advent of distributed generation, which in many instances will kill off centralised ‘bulk’ generation and distribution.”

Investigations into Eskom

Last year, Blom also testified before South African Parliament’s inquiry into Eskom’s governance: “The Parliamentary Energy subcommittee investigation is a refreshing attempt to decipher what has gone wrong at Eskom since it was ‘commercialised’ in 2001.

“However, any results will only highlight that prosecution and clean-ups are long overdue, as the committee is powerless to take punitive action against wrongdoers.”

Blom also conducted forensic reviews on the Medupi, Ingula and Kusile power station contracts, “but that work is far from complete and dramatically short of resources. Another milestone is the completion of the legal preparatory work to have the first Tegeta coal supply agreement terminated, but again the action has been suspended for unknown reasons.

“The other two Tegeta coal supply agreements should also be terminated, but it seems South Africans do not have the political staying power to exercise their rights, with the result that Tegeta has managed to get Eskom to further increase coal supply prices, beyond the already outrageous prices- which eventually feed into new higher electricity prices.”

“So while we appear to be winning on the ‘small stage’, we are falling further behind on the ‘big stage’”, warned Blom.

Read more: Solar PV in Africa: Falling costs driving rapid growth

Nuclear deal pushing ahead

With regards to the pending decision on the nuclear deal, Blom says: “I am convinced that the nuclear deal will be pushed through the moment South African citizens take their ‘eye off the ball’.

“Zuma’s government has already confirmed that it is beholden to the Russian deal, and their delivery of those contracts to Russia is allegedly behind. So expect renewed vigour from Eskom and the Department of Energy to bulldoze these through.”

Read the full interview here.

ESI Africa is the official host publication to African Utility Week, which was named the joint winner for the 2017 AAXO Award for Best Trade Exhibition 6001-12000sqm category (with the World Travel Market). The conference and exhibition takes place on 15-16 May 2018 in Cape Town.

African Utility Week


Featured image: Stock