For generations [energy] has been generated, transmitted and distributed in centralized power systems all over the world. In South Africa we rely on Eskom for electricity and it’s no secret that they have been imprudent especially with load sheading, stolen coal, World Bank debt, exempt regulation audits and two new coal-fired power stations. Isn’t it time we fully invested in alternative source of [energy]?
Decentralization of energy is the solution for the on growing demand for electricity as it is eco-friendly and inexpensive. The idea is to generate [energy] closer to where is will be used, via solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, wind and hydropower. These renewable energy systems can operate on the grid, by being connected to the centralized power systems (Eskom), and off the grid by operating independently.
South Africa is investing heavily in transforming its [energy] sector, in fact the government has committed to enabling Independent Power Providers (IPPs) to partner with Eskom by selling their energy, which therefore reduces the reliance of coal-generated electricity.
This energy mix will not only reduce the impact of fossil fuel on the climate, but it will promote economic growth and development through adequate investment in [energy] infrastructure, as well as the provision of quality energy services that are competitively priced, reliable, efficient and environmental sustainability.
Then again how is it decentralizing if IPPs are selling [energy] to Eskom? Well the “off the grid” renewable [energy] is more decentralized, because we can generate our own [energy] in our houses, store it in batteries and use it when it suites us. Most people would love to be independent especially small to medium businesses as they lose revenue during load shedding season. In fact many companies, such as Siemens, have developed amazing products which allow customers the option of having different energy sources in one building.
There are concerns of loss of revenue for municipalities from electricity sales furthermore the present regulatory environment does not allow municipalities to procure from sources other than Eskom. Coal miners are also concerned about job losses as a result of renewable [energy], especially since coal mines contribute 1.8% to South Africa’s GDP.
Let’s face it, pros outweigh the cons with regards to renewable energy, countries like German have demonstrates its capabilities. There is no doubt that an energy transition will result in ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ in the economy, which means that a rational, robust and inclusive planning system is required.
The electricity sector in South Africa is a highly contested space and the emergence of renewable energy technologies has generated a healthy revitalization and disturbance of the status quo in the industry. Decentralization is about giving ordinary people power to control the energy system, therefore being in charge of their energy future.
WWF, 2017. Renewable Energy: Facts and Futures
SunTank Solar Geysers, 2019: Our RDP project! SunTank Solar Geysers
Available online at: https://www.instagram.com/p/BuoBKFigB8H/
Available online at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QEr0A9Qsgvc