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The mindset has to change from our side, as Africans, to start moving at a fast growing pace of transformation to end the poverty our people are suffering amid a stale economy, writes Adil Nchabeleng

There is a rule called a carpenter’s rule, it says, “Measure twice and cut once”. The rationale behind the carpenters rule is that you plan extensively and prepare wisely before embarking on any action in life. Because once you take the action to implement a plan, you have only one opportunity to do it right. This all relates to planning.

I am quite worried about the Koeberg power station. There are too many interferences that are hindering the continuing work of repairing and extending the lifespan of Koeberg.

Some of the interferences seem deliberate to delay the finalisation work needed to be completed on the Koeberg unit 1 and unit 2 steam generator works. These interferences will further push delays on the power station units to return back into operation.

If Koeberg units generating 2 000MW do not return to operation as scheduled, the delays will add unnecessary stress on the current situation of loadshedding. So bringing back into operation those units must be the highest priority. The rebuild on the Koeberg power nuclear station infrastructure in terms of the steam generator, is shrouded by heavy vested interests to destroy the operating licence of Koeberg as a means to further delay the plant from returning into operation.

There is too much politics around the plant and that should be avoided by all costs. Eskom should provide executive leadership and direction to support the Koeberg power plant.

The executives should prioritise the return to operation of the Koeberg power station. There is just too much interference especially from people in the green lobby who are trying to stop Eskom focusing on nuclear.

Current Eskom loss on the plant right now is about 16 000MW. It is a significant capacity. There has only been a reduction of about 3 000MW since the start of the Energy Action Plan programme.

We also should be mindful of the fact that significant progress has been made on returning generation capacity back into the grid but more work should be carried out on focusing on the fundamentals of electricity generation which are driven by baseload energy in South Africa.

Remember that each 1 000MW loss in Eskom over an annual period is about R132 billion for every 1 000MW contribution reduction in gross domestic production (GDP) in a year. So if, for example, more than 16 000MW are currently out of production, that equals over R2.1 trillion GDP lost in the economy. The Minister of Electricity has only managed to resolve 3  000MW, you also need another 6 000MW to get out of this entire crisis of loadshedding. In total, South Africa needs at least 10 000MW recovered from breakdowns. That way we have enough energy reserve margin required.

Once SA achieves a milestone of repairing and fixing about 10 000MW and returning this power plant units back into operation, Eskom can use less diesel, reducing its spend.

We need to have fewer plants breaking down and produce actual electricity that is demanded by the economy. We cannot as citizens allow Eskom to be a company that discourages consumers to use less of its product.

Electricity is vital. People should be consuming more electricity to produce the higher levels of GDP that we need to grow our economy. It will boost jobs and create the incomes that we need in our country. Eskom should be providing that electricity on a secure guaranteed basis so that economic growth becomes a normal standard in South Africa.

We have the power plants with around 50 000MW of installed capacity that are available within Eskom that can provide for all the energy we need. Eskom has no capacity crisis.

The crisis of power plant breakdowns was self engineered. On this part I agree with former president Thabo Mbeki when he said that there seems to have been a deliberate sabotage of Eskom. As you look deeper you see the traces of that sabotage. We need to plan for future additional energy capacity and our capacity. Without planning on growing our energy generation and grid capacity expansion we are doomed. We will go nowhere as an economy and country.

The BRICS Summit has come and gone and all those agreements signed must now be put into action and implemented. The days of talking are over

Action

Eskom, Department of Public Enterprises, Department of Mineral Resources and Energy, and the Minister of Electricity must plan for the immediate future to revive and fix power stations. And have a plan for the next year and so on.

For the next three years build a new mega build power station fuelled by coal, gas, nuclear, and hydro battery storage.

Renewables will continue to grow and take sizeable market share of energy generation for households and semi industrial needs. But on their own renewable energy cannot replace baseload fossil fuels energy.

Within the energy sector currently there is no long-term plan and even the Integrated Resource Plan 2019 is totally flawed on the long-term needs of SA.

The current long-term plan is based on the Just Energy Transition plan, which is going to be disastrous because we don’t have technology that is capable of fully moving SA out of coal and fossil fuel based energy electricity.

The plan should be right now, immediately bring back all the power plants that are currently out of action and service that are broken down under no scheduled maintenance. Bring them back, make them operational and you recover the 16 000MW.

Once you have saved the country from going into loadshedding for the next 10 years, then map out new future capacity so South Africa’s economy never has to suffer the blow of no capacity again.

For South Africa to quickly improve out of this situation it must study what other countries around the world are doing on building there in energy capacity. They will find that they are building brand new power stations at 10 times the rate of their economic development. For example, China is building 50 power stations a year.

The mindset has to change from our side, as Africans, to start moving at a fast growing pace of transformation to end the poverty our people are suffering amid a stale economy.

Crown Prince Adil Nchabeleng is the President of Transform RSA and an Independent Energy Expert.

This article first appeared on IOL and is published with permission.