South Africa’s New Approach to Energy Generation

South Africa has been in the middle of an extreme energy crisis for some time now. The electric energy shortage situation was so bad this year that the country’s primary public energy supplier, Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd., had to rely on customer energy conservation and scheduled rotating blackouts until August 8 to meet the ever-growing human demand for service.

In many areas of the world it’s difficult to get away from the use of fossil fuels. South Africa is one of those areas. Approximately 85 percent of Eskom’s electricity comes from burning coal. Although this reliance on coal won’t end any time soon given the recent completion of one coal-burning plant in August and another scheduled for completion in August 2017, South Africans have come to realize that the only way they can tackle their energy shortage is by relying on mixed generation sources.

South Africa is investing millions of dollars in existing coal plant upgrades to diesel and natural gas; as well as buying energy from gas and diesel suppliers. The country is investing billions in new plants and third-party contracts involving hydro, nuclear, solar and wind electricity generation sources within and outside of the country.

A contract with the Democratic Republic of Congo will one day provide between 9,540 and 13,060 megawatts from the Grand Inga hydropower plant. There’s also a plan to build eight nuclear reactors to generate up to 9,600 megawatts of power starting in 2023. South Africans hope to gain approximately 12,300 megawatts from independent solar and wind sources.

Best yet, Eskom plans to save electricity – approximately 1,627 megawatts – currently generated by private companies. Buying into co-generation should pull South Africa further away from fossil fuel dependence over the next two decades.

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