As Eskom lifts its emergency notice, one can't help having flash backs to 2008 when rolling blackouts almost crippled the economy.
This time, the lifting of the notice has happened sooner than expected -- but not before it's become apparent that Eskom is in trouble, again.
The state utility has, despite the problems of 2008, failed to change its clearly inefficient business model, which relies on the expansion of coal fired power stations to supply South Africa’s developing economy with electricity.
Albert Einstein defined madness as doing the same thing over and over, each time expecting different results. It’s unclear how Eskom supposes that increasing our reliance on coal power will avoid the problems that coal reliance has caused in the first instance.
What is clear is that renewable energy has entered the scene in South Africa – and it has excelled!
In an historic moment, the 312 000-panel Kalkbult Solar PV plant in Kimberley became the first independent renewable producer to be built, completed, and get connected to the grid in South Africa. The 75MW project will produce in excess of 135 million kWh per year, enough to power roughly 33 000 South African households!
This is unlike the lumbering monstrosities, Medupi and Kusile, the two over-budget and behind-schedule coal plants, which are currently costing the tax payer to the tune of R240 billion. Renewable energy projects like Kalkbult have the advantage over Medupi and Kusile because they’re smaller, easier to manage, and far cheaper.
In order to meet our energy needs, South Africa needs to increase generation capacity. Getting its citizens involved in energy production is one of the fastest and cheapest ways to do this. Encouraging citizens to produce their own power will catalyse a solar roof top revolution, democratising energy production, and further avoiding any need for more coal monstrosities.
Decentralised power – like solar panels on rooftops – can be generated near the place it is needed, increasing energy efficiency while also allowing it to remain under the control of the people who will use it. For a country under such massive energy pressures and simultaneously threatened by increasing water scarcity, South Africans must be empowered to make optimum use of the abundant renewable energy resources at their finger tips.