African Utility Week expected to attract more than 10 000 professionals

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The African Utility Week and POWERGEN Africa conference and exhibition will take place in Cape Town from May 14 to 16, 2019, in partnership with the SA Ministry of Energy.

Minister of Energy Jeff Radebe will be one of the speakers at the event, which takes place at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC).

According to African Utility Week and POWERGEN Africa event director Evan Schiff, the potential of renewable energy sources such as solar, storage solutions and mini-grid generation projects are just some of the focus areas at this year's event.

More than 10 000 energy and water professionals from across Africa and the world are expected to gather in the Mother City.

According to Dr Sam Duby, Africa director for TFE Energy, mini grids could very quickly sort out a lot of the biggest challenges that South Africa is having with its energy supply at the moment.

"Deregulation would open a market for people to produce power and sell power and that would revolutionise the energy landscape in South Africa. Technically it wouldn't be a difficult or complex thing to do. There are plenty of precedents around the world where it has worked really well," said Duby.

Mini grids have become increasingly important on the continent and are being built at a rapid rate with more than 2 000 mini grids currently across Africa.

"It's a combination of people waking up to the fact that it is the only realistic solution for remote and rural electrification, combined with the ever-falling costs of the technology that make it increasingly viable," says Duby.

"At the same time, you have got governments starting to see precedents, starting to see regulations and policy landscapes that have worked and are not quite so scared of it as a route."

He said slowly the regulation side is easing and as a result the sector is growing.

In the view of Penny Herbst, director of strategy for Africa GreenCo, the business model for energy investment needs to change.

"There are far too many players that are comfortable with the same structures for investment, selling to an SOE with a government guarantee. What we really need at present is for investors to have a stake where their influence contributes to improving the electricity supply industry (ESI) as a whole," says Herbst.


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