Coal power will solve load-shedding, says former Eskom boss

Eskom’s focus on improving its coal fleet’s performance and recognition of coal’s importance will end load-shedding in South Africa.

This is according to former Eskom CEO Jacob Maroga, who told eNCA that the utility must focus on its existing infrastructure as it provides the solution to load-shedding.

Maroga has previously said that Eskom was concentrating too much on Independent Power Producers (IPPs) and adding new generation capacity.

Instead, the utility should improve its existing infrastructure, which it has begun to do following leadership changes at Eskom.

The change in focus is partly responsible for the reduced load-shedding the country is currently experiencing.

“The most important lever to end load-shedding is to have an improved and consistent performance of the coal fleet,” Maroga said.

The former CEO said this shows that Eskom is heading in the right direction and is making strides in ending load-shedding.

However, Maroga urged the utility to keep businesses involved in building new generating capacity and helping Eskom maintain its coal fleet.

Eskom should take a balanced approach and not favour IPPs over its existing coal fleet as it has previously done.

Maroga also praised electricity minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa for his role in improving the performance of Eskom’s coal fleet.

Renewables cannot solve load-shedding

Gwede Mantashe, Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy

Maroga’s comments echo those of mineral resources and energy minister Gwede Mantashe.

Mantashe told the Black Business Council that you cannot solve load-shedding through renewables as they must be complemented by baseload energy supply in the form of coal, gas, or nuclear.

“If not, we are heading for disaster,” said the minister. “You will not solve load-shedding through renewables. You are not going to do it. We must all accept that and understand it.”

However, the minister acknowledged that renewables have a role to play in addressing South Africa’s energy crisis.

The government is still committed to transitioning from a high- to a low-carbon emissions economy, but South Africa will not be 100% reliant on renewables.

“We must exercise energy sovereignty and eradicate energy poverty” before the country turns to decarbonisation.

Mantashe said that even developed economies, giving Sweden as an example, are beginning to retreat from renewables as they have learnt that you cannot rely on them for 100% of your energy supply.

“Our country deserves an opportunity to transition at pace and scale determined by its citizens.”

This article was first published by Daily Investor and is republished with permission.

Now read: Eskom’s big breakdown problem

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Coal power will solve load-shedding, says former Eskom boss