Cape Town - Cape Town-based advisory group Meridian Economics recently published two groundbreaking reports “Resolving the Power Crisis”, “Part A” and “Part B”, which analysed the energy sector and outlined a game plan to end load shedding by early 2024, but it requires substantial political will.
The report showed that load shedding was eminently solvable and would have been virtually eliminated in 2021, had there been more renewables on the system.
“If we had 5GW of additional renewable energy on the grid in 2021 (the worst year for load shedding on the record), this would have essentially solved load shedding, while enabling better use of our existing pumped storage and diesel-fired OCGT assets (Eskom's most important weapons to plug demand and supply gaps),” the Meridian team said.
The report was sent to key stakeholders in the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE), National Treasury, the Presidency, Eskom, Cosatu, the Presidential Climate Commission, and Nersa, among others, for their consideration – it was also widely disseminated through public communication channels.
“Implementing the Risk-Adjusted Resource Plan will require key interventions by many of the key stakeholders above. We recommend that a dedicated well-resourced power crisis implementation unit be established inside the Presidency to drive and monitor the implementation of the ‘game plan’ laid out,” the team said.
The team said there were practical pathways to contain and resolve load shedding, while also kick-starting the country’s green industrialisation and decarbonisation ambitions.
Greenpeace Africa Climate and Energy campaigner Thandile Chinyavanhu said the report affirmed the calls for a just transition and decarbonisation of the energy system – especially as renewable energy was now the cheapest energy generation source, and its quick uptake could solve the energy crisis.
Research fellow in the UCT Global Risk Governance programme and energy expert Hilton Trollip said state capture at Eskom derailed the successful Renewable Energy IPP Programme and did damage in many dimensions at Eskom.
An eager political will to fix the energy crisis was a major component of the report and was critical for Meridian’s game plan to end load shedding.
Trollip said if the DMRE was not held to account to meet its legislative obligations, the possible Stage 6 or Stage 7 load shedding, mentioned in the report, could become a very real prospect.
However, Eskom said addressing the unreliability and unpredictability of its generation fleet (which were two of the primary reasons behind load shedding) could not be done in a short time frame.