Radical change needed in energy sector, says Zuma

Power constraints call for a “radical transformation” of the country’s energy sector, President Jacob Zuma told South Africans on Tuesday.

“We need to respond decisively to the country’s energy constraints, in order to create a conducive environment for growth,” he said in his state-of-the-nation address.

“[The] situation calls for a radical transformation of the energy sector, to develop a sustainable energy mix that comprises coal, solar, wind, hydro, gas, and nuclear energy.”

This would require structural changes in the manner in which government departments and state-owned companies and the industry as a whole addressed the energy problems.

Government also needed to identify innovative approaches to fast-track procurement and delivery by government in the energy sector.

A Cabinet sub-committee would be established to co-ordinate activities of the energy sector.

“It will also ensure Eskom receives the support it requires to fulfil its mandate.”

Zuma signalled a firm commitment to further developing nuclear power and exploiting shale gas reserves.

“Work needs to be done at a technical level on all forms of energy, especially nuclear energy and shale gas, with regards to funding, safety, exploitation and local manufacture of components.

“Nuclear has the possibility of generating well over 9000MW, while shale gas is recognised as a game-changer for our economy.”

He said shale gas options would be pursued “within the framework of our good environmental laws”.

Among the urgent short-term steps that would be taken was speeding up work on the Medupi coal-fired power station.

“There are also some urgent activities we are engaging in the short-term. Progress at Medupi… will be accelerated. Plans for advancing the next large coal-fired power station… will be speeded up so the procurement process can commence,” he said.

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Radical change needed in energy sector, says Zuma