Aug 2012

Energy mix will keep the lights on

Infrastructure development

Energy mix will keep the lights on



The cold weather has placed tremendous pressure on electricity supply. Despite this, government is committed to keep the lights on and avoid having to go back to the blackouts experienced in 2008. Still, South Africa’s power supply in the next 18 months is expected to be tight, said Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba.

Gigaba said the situation was expected to continue until the first unit of the coal fired Medupi Power Station is up and running. Medupi is due to deliver first power to the grid at the end of 2013.

However, “very tight balance between supply and demand remains”, the Minister noted.


integrated resourCe plan

In the meantime, Minister of Energy Dipuo Peters said government would ensure security of energy supply with an energy plan that would meet the needs of our growing economy. She added that this would be done without compromising our commitment to sustainable development by utilising our fossil resources* responsibly.

Speaking at a recent breakfast event, the Minister said the Department of Energy would use the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) to address the energy challenge. The IRP requires South Africa to generate about 42 per cent of its electricity from renewable energy resources*.

Peters said the IRP emphasised broadening electricity supply with an energy mix that would include gas, imports, nuclear, biomass, and renewables (wind, solar and hydro).

Regarding the objectives set for the green economy under the New Growth Path, the implementation of the IRP will make an important contribution towards stimulating the green economy. More than 12 000 construction-related jobs  and just  above 1 000 permanent jobs are expected to be created under the programme, Minister Peters said.

The Minister added that the local assembly of goods was important to creating jobs and should form part of South Africa’s energy plan.


Solar water heaters

Using the example of solar water heater systems, the Minister said to date over 250 000 had been installed throughout the country with a target deadline of 1 million to be installed by 2014.

The IRP programme also provides for local content in the provision of alternative energy sources. Only those suppliers who commit to localise their products will therefore be able to participate in the government funded subsidy programme.

“Over the next three years, we will spend R4,7 billion on this programme, and my view is that we cannot export the job creation potential that this allocation has,” Minister Peters said.


* Renewable energy is energy generated by natural resources such as sunlight (solar), wind, and water (hydro). Renewable energy does not have a limited supply and can be used again and again.


* Fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas are fuels containing carbon that was formed over millions of years through the decay, burial and compaction of rotting vegetation on land, and of marine organisms on the sea floor. Burning fossil fuels can add to the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.



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