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Ted Blom writes in response to an article featured on ESI Africa dated 25 April 2018 penned by Dr Bernhard Scheffler, “Energy Expert” Blom’s crusade against 27 renewable energy contracts”.

Scheffler starts the article by quoting numbers I have published in the past , viz that Eskom’s old coal fleet has an “on the grid cost less than R0.40cents/kWh.

I stand by those numbers. In fact Eskom during their Cape Town presentation on 16 April 2018, mentioned a coal generation cost of below R0.30cents/kWh. The cheapest renewables are still somewhat above that number, and do not include storage or backup costs for when they do not function (+60% of the time).

My position has not been against renewables, if the good doctor had done his homework properly, he would have noticed that I am against all additions to the Grid whilst Eskom has a surplus of more than 5GW and growing.

So for Scheffler to then quote the cost of new coal against new renewables to trash me is rather disingenuous, and I would have expected better from a learned lecturer at Pretoria University.

I note that Scheffler is also not a totally disinterested party. Since Scheffler is so well versed in renewables, maybe he can explain why the current 27 projects require a Government guarantee that states  that “Eskom will take all their production on a take or pay basis, at guaranteed escalated prices, for 20 years.”

Surely, if renewables were such a bargain, as he insists, no guarantee for 20 years would be required. The Grid dispatch rules require the cheapest energy to be dispatched first, so if renewables filled that space, Eskom would have to oblige.

In addition, as far as the sustainable jobs from wind farms is concerned, I have yet to see a project with more than a dozen or so workers  after construction, unless the SA projects are going to use the workers to turn the turbines to compensate for the dismal production statistics of wind worldwide.

It is a pity that Scheffler has stooped so low in his article, and I am happy to remain with the published facts of my claims.

Ted Blom |Partner |Mining & Energy Advisors


  1. Dr Bernhard Scheffler responds…

    “No matter on what podiums the opposite may be proclaimed – I stand by my statement that for planning the future, the cost of the FUTURE (i.e. NEW) renewable installations should be compared to FUTURE (NEW) coal. As already pointed out and well documented by a link in my Op-Ed on Mr Blom’s Crusade against 27 Renewable Energy Projects, this is also the position of the the CSIR Energy Division.

    “And as shown in this same link, the cost of NEW solar and wind power (at around 62c/kWh in 2016 rands) in the projects of which Blom “is highly critical . . . ” is far below that of the NEW Eskom project Kusile (at nearly twice the cost), and also far below the cost of NEW IPP coal. Thus agitating against these 27 Renewable Energy projects is arguimg for higher electricity prices.

    “It is no accident that already in 2016 NEW solar + wind power (126 GW) far outstripped net NEW coal + gas-fired power (86 GW) worldwide, according to the IEA (see link in my original).

    “Whereas I quoted Blom VERBATIM and in context from the second and third paragraphs of an ESI Africa article to which I also gave a link, his response is not backed by any readily verifiable sources. If such sources exist, then why does he not link them?”