South Africa 4.11.2017 05:20 am

Coal, nuclear lobbies want to kill off renewable energy, says physics expert

Eskom power station (File pic: Eskom website)

Eskom power station (File pic: Eskom website)

Eskom has become a victim of its own successful campaign during the rolling blackouts to use as little of its product as possible.

While Eskom waits for its R1.5 billion from Trillian and McKinsey and company, thousands of people who installed solar geysers under the solar geyser home incentive scheme remain out of pocket.

The real number is unknown at this stage and the cessation of the programme – believed to be since January 2016 – speaks directly to Eskom’s appeal to the National Energy Regulator of South Africa to approve its request for a 19.9% price hike.

Eskom has become a victim of its own successful campaign during the rolling blackouts to use as little of its product as possible.

Now, it is producing surplus electricity – 5 600MW at peak in January – and is hell-bent on making as many people as possible pay for electricity to use its product.

It had 162 104 customers connected to the grid between January and October, and it appears the organisation is more focused on turning bucks than in green targets.

Meanwhile, the Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme has said: “South Africa has a high level of renewable energy potential and in line with the national commitment to transition to a low carbon economy, 17 800MW of the 2030 target (according to the IRP 2010) of newly generated power to be developed are expected to be from renewable energy sources, with 5 000MW to be operational by 2019 and a further 2 000MW (i.e. combined 7 000MW) operational by 2020.”

The question is why does Eskom and the department of energy (DE) not make surplus electricity available at a cheaper rate, for economic development.

The answer lies perhaps in an article on The Conversation by University of Johannesburg professor of physics Hartmut Winkler.

Winkler has postulated that two powerful lobbies against renewable energy were at work. “One is pro-coal, the other pro-nuclear. This has made the success of the renewable energy projects a target for attacks from interested parties in both,” said Winkler.

“Disrupting the renewable energy sector would ensure that the coal sector remains dominant. And that, over time, it is gradually displaced by nuclear,” he wrote.

“The lobby groups attached to coal and nuclear appear to have had powerful allies on the state utility’s board. There is mounting evidence that they have been furthering the interests of a group linked to the Gupta family,” Winkler claimed.

All the dithering, corruption and cover-ups have consequences for ordinary folk.

Meanwhile, Eskom said the organisation has established the National Solar Water Heating programme on behalf of the DE.

For more than a week, Saturday Citizen has attempted to obtain answers from the DE, but its spokesperson, Johannes Mokobane, kept referring us to the website. – amandaw@citizen.co.za

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