HomeRegional NewsAfricaTime for action as energy runs out

Time for action as energy runs out

I’m angry, feeling conflicted, and am not alone. South Africans are united in their disappointment of being hit, yet again, by increasing stages of planned electricity outages.

Originally published in the ESI Africa weekly newsletter on 2019/12/11

The loadshedding comes at a time when COP25 is underway, setting the world stage for progressive action on climate change. It’s an event that I usually follow closely; however, the shadow of power outages is sapping my commitment to reduce carbon emissions.

Many people are responding with jokes or putting a positive spin on the debacle. Here’s one that caught my attention: In the past week, South Africa’s loadshedding has done more than any other country in the world to cut carbon emissions.

It’s unfortunate that, having joined the call to action on climate change, South Africa must now put this threat on a back-burner as the focus turns to keep the lights on, while nursing an economy through ill-health, and grappling with finding solutions that fit our unique circumstances.

The time for action is now.

Here are five things that South Africa can quickly implement without delay and do so with the stroke of a pen from a committed leadership.

  • Pen stroke one: Increase the maintenance schedules on thermal power plants, substations, and transmission lines.
  • Pen stroke two: Immediately launch round 5 of the REIPPP, noting that development of solar and wind plants also take time to come online.
  • Pen stroke three: Release constraints on decentralised energy resources, specifically rooftop solar PV installations.
  • Pen stroke four: Allow municipalities and large cities to purchase directly from independent power producers.
  • Pen stroke five: Take decisive legal action against delinquent municipalities who have failed to manage their electricity bills.

Energy strategic is a key topic at the African Utility Week and POWERGEN Africa conference. Click here to register to attend or for more information about the event.

At the COP25, Chile’s Environment Minister Carolina Schmidt reminded the world that efforts to stem climate change and develop economies should not follow separate tracks.

I’d add that we can’t solve national problems in isolation. Further to my list above, it’s always good to look at scenarios implemented successfully elsewhere; however, bearing in mind these are not plug-and-play solutions – and South Africa is undeniably unique.

Until next time.
Editor: ESI Africa

Nicolette Pombo-van Zyl
As the Editor of ESI Africa, my passion is on sustainability and placing African countries on the international stage. I take a keen interest in the trends shaping the power & water utility market along with the projects and local innovations making headline news. Watch my short weekly video on our YouTube channel ESIAfricaTV and speak with me on what has your attention.