LOAD shedding hit Stage 6 this week with South Africans going for hours without electricity, while in some areas, power did not return at its stipulated time, leaving citizens stranded.
Energy expert Adil Nchabeleng believes load shedding can be ended in 90 days. In a video of him circulating on social media, Nchabeleng said the ending of load shedding was easy.
“In three months we can end it, they are not making the effort and they are creating opportunities out of this load shedding. One, the opportunity to give people the hope that something is going to happen, secondly, they are using it towards the election to say, ‘we have been working hard to end load shedding’ when they know it can be done in three months.
“Bring back the 17 000 megawatts that are currently sitting idle and not working in the power stations, completely shut down due to some of these minimum emission standards. Bring back the additional power that is already available within Eskom. And once you solve that, you’re going to be okay,” he said.
However, legal expert Dr Mkhuseli Vimba weighed in saying there was no immediate solution to load shedding as it would take time to resolve the issue.
“It will take time to resolve the current catastrophic load shedding and if the government had a plan, such a plan would have been implemented a long time ago especially with the deficit of trust from the society and for a party facing the electorate in next year's elections,” Vimba said.
Vimba said the answers provided by the Minister of Electricity in Parliament bore testament that the government had no clear plan to give an immediate solution to end load shedding in the next few months.
“According to the Minister of Electricity and experts in the field, it would be costly to implement any immediate solution to load shedding. South Africa should consider buying or importing electricity from neighbouring countries,” he said.
Vimba further said that the government should consider hastening the process of getting renewable energy sources as a buffer/bulwark for electricity shortage, in the process subsidise businesses and communities in acquiring solar panels to put lights on.
Learning from other jurisdictions such as Australia would go a long way as Eskom through use of renewable energy could buy surplus from the same businesses or communities in the long run.
“The reality is that all government efforts are taking a long time to bring about much anticipated solutions. Many feel that the government is not doing enough and its recent decision to appeal a court decision to provide alternative energy solutions to hospitals and schools is going to exacerbate things. South Africans have their expectations which unfortunately the government has failed to meet,” Vimba said.
Member of the ANC and the head of the economic diplomacy task team, Sikhumbuzo Thomo, weighed in saying load shedding could indeed be ended but by increasing generation capacity. “If it means bringing old stations at play, so be it.”
Thomo said an issue that should be considered was burning the abundant coal cleaner investment into smaller nuclear power plants, even hydro.
On whether enough effort is being made to put an end to load shedding, Thomo said it was not an effort issue as there was the NEC plan and added effort with the new ministry of electricity.
“It’s a question of sequencing the plans and improving energy generation, so that the Energy Availability Factor (EAF) is a consequence of a balanced formula 80/10/10 or better that will usher out load shedding,” said Thomo.