Page 3 - Energize January 2021
P. 3


                                All the “news” of the new year

                                by Roger Lilley, Now Media

                new year dawns with many     IPPs - ed] meeting South Africa’s peak  According to Stats SA
                challenges and new ways of   electricity demand this evening. Imagine  ( South Africa's
                doing things. The Covid-19   how much more diesel would have had  inflation rate for 2020 was 3,3%. An
        Apandemic, which most                to be burned, or what load-shedding  electricity price increase of 8,5%,
        people believed would be a short-lived  we’d be experiencing, if renewable  previously agreed to the National Energy
        problem, has now become a part of our  energy were not contributing 1370 MW  Regulator of South Africa (Nersa), plus the
        lives. Governments all over the world  right now.”                       2% now agreed to by Nersa, means that
        imposed restrictions to limit the spread  And, for those who are quick to say  the increase in electricity tariffs will be
        of the virus, prevent hospitals from being  that renewable energy is unpredictable –  three-times the official rate of inflation.
        swamped by sick patients, and to save  or variable – it is certainly no more so  Eskom has for years maintained that
        as many lives as possible. However, the  than Eskom’s fleet of ageing and  its tariffs are not cost-reflective, implying
        restrictions in travel, personal     unreliable power stations. Take, for  that the power utility sells electricity for
        interaction, and public events have  example, the one power station which the  less than it costs the utility to produce
        resulted in a global economic downturn.   power utility has boasted about for years.  the electricity.
           There’s a new way of working now – if  The one which, according to Eskom  But when one analyses the costs
        you still have a job: from home if you can.  provides the country with its cheapest,  Eskom faces, we see that these include
        And a new way of shopping, too: online if  most reliable power: Koeberg.  overspending on new generation (Medupi
        possible. Colleagues are limited to    The Koeberg nuclear power station in  and Kusile power plants will cost four
        meetings by Zoom, Google Meet, or    the Western Cape might, perhaps,    times more than budgeted, and they are
        some other similar service. Extended  provide the cheapest electricity but it  not complete yet!). Plus, the wasteful
        families no longer gather for birthdays  seems that it very seldom keeps both  expenditure that has been exposed over
        and other anniversaries – or even for a  units running simultaneously for any  the last two or three years, an excess of
        weekend braai – as often as they used to,  length of time. Currently, one of the units  staff, as well as the horrendous losses
        leaving many people feeling isolated,  is offline for repairs following the  through corruption, theft, and
        lonely, and depressed.               discovery of a steam leak. Eskom says it  maladministration under previous CEOs.
           But amidst the negative sentiment,  will stay offline for refuelling and  But Eskom has a new CEO and Board
        there is also the new way of generating  maintenance, which will mean months of  which by all accounts has stopped the
        electricity. Although Eskom is struggling to  no output. Thus, the 1800 MW plant will  corruption and is recovering some of the
        keep the lights on, more and more    not provide more than 900 MW.       money. So, with the new Board and CEO
        electricity from privately-owned       Renewable energy may be variable,  and ever-more renewable energy coming
        generation plants is coming online. The  but its not offline for months at a time.  online, we hope for the best for 2021.
        South African government’s Renewable  Furthermore, a relatively inexpensive  Among all these new things is a new
        Energy Independent Power Producers   solution to the variability already exists –  Energize website. It is faster than the old
        Procurement Programme (REIPPPP) is   energy storage. Batteries can be    one and offers more functionality. We
        yielding fruit. More power is available to  charged and discharged to keep the  hope that as the electricity supply
        the grid and the cost of that power is  output steady.                   industry navigates this new year, it will do
        falling rapidly.                       Something else which will be new this  so with the new Energize website as its
           As UCT’s Prof. Anton Eberhard     year will be Eskom’s triple-inflation tariff  point of reference.
        tweeted recently in response to Eskom’s  increase. For the first time in its history,
        generation figures: “Lots of diesel-fuelled  Eskom will introduce a tariff increase  Send your comments to
        OCGT units [i.e. five of Eskom’s and four  three-times the rate of inflation.

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