Energy is a necessary commodity in the livelihood of human beings and performance of the economy. South Africa as a developing economy, coming from years of deliberate constraints brought about by oppression of black people, has a backlog of over 2.5 million households without electricity and a need to cater for the demands of what should be a growing economy.
One of the serious failings of successive governments has been poor and improper forecasting and planning for increasing energy demand hence the threat of blackouts that continue to haunt South Africans. By leaving energy demand forecasting to the entities involved in energy production, the current and previous governments have allowed future energy needs of the country to be constrained by limitations of the entities involved and not by the future demands of the economy.
The current government and the ones preceding it have perennially underinvested in energy infrastructure with the result being sudden and unaffordable tariff increases in electricity and a constraint in our country’s industrial prosperity due to unreliable electricity supply. Even the once vaunted role of independent energy producers failed because government could not create amenable conditions for their success.
Currently, the most energy intense sectors of the country’s economy are transport and the manufacturing industry which share more than two thirds of the energy demand. The projection for the foreseeable future suggests that this is not going to change. This fact poses another challenge as transport is the biggest consumer of liquid fuels. While liquid fuel can be derived from the reserves of coal that South Africa has, processing these into liquid fuels is still a huge challenge, let alone its negative impact on the environment. This has led to the dependence on imports from oil producing countries. With no additional capacity to refine oil, South Africa now has to import a share of the country’s refined fuel needs.
In addition to the challenges highlighted above electricity generation is not without challenges. Electricity generation in South Africa is largely dependent on coal power stations with high greenhouse gas emissions. These coal power stations are at midlife and a majority of them will have to be refurbished or new ones brought on line around 2025. This situation largely arises from a lack of decision making and wrong policy proposals taken in 1998, which today necessitates that South Africa catch up with the building of a new fleet of power stations that will alleviate the current energy constraints.
Believing that policy proposals on energy should consider the current economic conditions and the likely economic path that the country will be taking and that the policy should be responsive to the need to uplift the conditions of the majority black people from high levels of inequality, poverty and deprivation, an AZAPO government will :
- Ensure better coordination to guarantee that capacity for energy production is built up in line with the planned economic trajectory of the country
- Set up a state agency that will
- be responsible for forecasting energy demand of the country independent from the energy producers and retailers
- look at the value chain of production and sale of energy from alternative energy sources
- maintain and control the transmission network independent of ESKOM for ease of access to the transmission network by various energy producers
- Pursue the exploration of local and regional gas
- Invest in building up strategic capacity of the country to refine and produce liquid fuels
- Develop a transportation policy that encourages reduction of liquid fuel demand
- Accelerate the electrification program for the remaining households that do not have access to electricity
- Consider the deployment of mixed grid and off grid solutions for electrification of households and increasing energy efficiency
- Increase free basic electricity for the poor to 100 kWh
- Lower the cost of electricity for the indigent through an introduction of a common(nation) indigent tariff that will be applicable to all energy sellers
- Invest in the development of a local industry producing green energy materials such as solar panels and wind turbines
- Provide for state funded strategic trunk corridors of power linking the identified energy resource locations to the national transmission grid.