2010 Legacy: Precious power for the people

2010-07-15 13:51

As we move towards 2014, ­Eskom is also moving forward to a milestone – the opening of the electricity-generation sector to ­include private operators whose ­contributions will be fed into the ­national grid.

By 2014 Eskom will have advanced further, to where all facets of its operations – ranging from the ambitious New Build Programme through to co-generation with the ­private ­sector and identification of ­renewable energy programmes – will be well ­established.

There is no doubt that the loadshedding of 2008 was a watershed event in the developmental history of South ­Africa.

It was a time when years of failure to “grasp the policy nettle” and hesitation about the essential electricity requirements became a harsh reality.

As with most negative events, ­however, there was a positive side.

From our perspective it signalled a ­return to basics and a need to restore faith in the utility.

Broadly, the events of 2008 also pushed electricity to the forefront of the national consciousness.

Part of the acceptance of the reality surrounding electricity use is that the days of cheap electricity are a thing of the past.

The challenge is ensuring that we are aware of those upon whom high energy costs could have a major negative impact.

We also have to face the reality that electricity is a precious resource that needs to be used efficiently.

It is part of an integrated chain that involves optimal use of precious resources.

By using power carefully and making use of new technologies such as dry cooling, Eskom will be playing its part in conserving these resources.

Broadening the company’s operational focus will also see investments in renewable energy – particularly wind and solar power – coming to the fore.

Nuclear energy, with the advantages it offers, will undoubtedly also play a significant part in our future.

The Eskom New Build Programme marks the first time in 20 years that Eskom has added capacity to its power stations.

It is one of the most ­significant programmes of its type ­anywhere in the world.

It would, however, be disingenuous to ignore the challenges facing Eskom.

The country has a shortage of skills and rail infrastructure mitigates against the transport of coal to many of Eskom’s power stations.

Another pressing issue is the sourcing of coal.

As coalfields become depleted, ­we will have to rely on lower-quality coal.

Coal will also become more expensive as miners have to dig deeper.

As we move steadily towards ­achieving the country’s power needs, it will become necessary for the price of electricity to reflect its true economic value and for inefficiencies within its production and use to be eliminated.

»?Dames is chief executive of Eskom

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