South Africa’s Energy crisis, once again we have been subjected by the power cuts by Eskom. The recent resignation of Eskom’s chairperson and concerns about the current and future reliability of electricity supply is due to these planned power outages (Load shedding). Question have also been raised regarding the lack of progress in solving Eskom’s financial and operation crisis.
I addition to the importance of electricity for people and business, the amount of proposed solutions and opinions shows a variety of corporate and political vested interests. One grouping wants the removal of public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan. It is argued that the recurrence of load shedding shows his failure to fix the power utility. Others has blamed energy minister Gwede Mantashe, arguing that load shedding could have been avoided if new renewable energy projects were commissioned by him and if large businesses were allowed greater decentralised electricity generation.
Most solutions on the crisis that come from these claims do not address the fundamental Eskom’s uncertain financial position. Billions were borrowed to build power stations that are turning to be unreliable. Those who argue commissioning new renewable energy projects is the solution are not thinking realistically.
Government finances are under huge strain and Eskom is almost bankrupt, “just buying new power” is not realistic. Economic activity can be harmed by unreliable electricity and reduces the electricity income to Eskom and the tax income to the state. In am attempt to avoid/reduce load shedding caused by failures of its main power plants, Eskom is using expensive options like gas turbines. This is a bit like taking a taxi when you are paying interest on a bank-financed car that you are not using.
Question is that: What about the idea that electricity users should be allowed to generate their own power?
Localised energy supply will almost certainly be part of failure energy systems. it could, however, contribute to Eskom’s downfall if it does not solve the systemic crisis Eskom is facing. Pressure may be taken off Eskom’s operations if users are encouraged to use other resources, but it will have disastrous financial implications.