Cape Town Hopes to Beat Blackouts

SOUTH Africa is facing blackouts over the winter (June to August) as electricity usage peaks leading to the City of Cape Town pushing for a 25-40 percent energy consumption reduction.

The Independent Online reports that on Wednesday the city launched an energy-saving campaign, as South Africa’s state utility, Eskom, wants major cities to save up to 10 percent of energy this year, to try to avoid blackouts.

Cape Town mayoral committee member for utility services, Clive Justus commented that efficient use of electricity was vital because of the steeply rising electricity tariffs and the shortfall in South Africa’s electricity capacity. The first price hikes will see electricity tariffs go up by around 20 to 25 percent in July.

Justus told Independent Online: “The need to reduce operating costs, the cost of inefficient energy use to the economy, the risk of future load shedding and ever increasing carbon emissions all add up to the urgent need for a concerted effort to improve our electricity efficiency in Cape Town.”

Sarah Ward, Cape Town’s head of energy and climate change, said there are many reasons the city is calling for energy efficiency.
“We have had cheap electricity in the past and people are not yet used to being energy efficient,” said Ward.

Ward also revealed that Cape Town had put a range of initiatives in place to encourage energy efficiency, including an energy efficiency forum for large commercial and industrial electricity consumers to provide managers of offices, shopping centres and hotels with practical knowledge on available energy-efficient solutions.

The city is also undertaking energy efficiency retrofits on some of its largest buildings, Ward said.

On Wednesday, the Energy Department said consumers were unlikely to face further electricity tariff hikes to recover an estimated R30-billion ($4.3 billion) needed to upgrade the power distribution infrastructure and grid.

Ompi Aphane, the deputy director-general for electricity, nuclear and clean energy, said the department had four potential ways to fund the desperately needed overhaul of outdated supply networks.

These were a national levy or municipal surcharges, private partnerships, development funding, potentially from the World Bank, and tariff adjustments.

“We are looking at all these options, and the World Bank is keen to facilitate any of them,” he said.

Picture of Greater Cape Town by Andrew Massyn (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Friday 25th March 2011

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