Energy mix key to combat municipal energy challenge

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

South African Local Government Association (SALGA) President Parks Tau says a diversified energy mix and renewable energy are possible solutions for municipalities to address disruptions in the energy sector.

Tau said the South African electricity and energy industry is still heavily reliant on a single supplier and operated in a traditional form which is not sustainable.

“The large scale utility business model is unsustainable and has to be fundamentally transformed. Whether we like it or not, electricity demand and sales are declining and this affects both Eskom and municipalities’ revenue,” said Tau.

He called for a decentralised energy supplier and for more competition in the energy sector.

“The rules need to change and provide for decentralised energy with both local government and consumers fulfilling a key role within the energy space, as opposed to only large-scale new generation,” said Tau.

Calling for a change in the type of energy used and the distribution thereof to municipalities while also maintaining the municipal purse, Tau said stakeholders had to be mindful of the challenges faced.

“The challenges we face include decarbonisation, decentralisation and digitalisation,” he said.

Despite these challenges, the SALGA head noted that the changes in the energy sector had an impact across various levels.

“The impact of the transition will transform our economy, create employment opportunities, protect our environment and climate, and improve the quality of life of our citizens. Every sector of society has a role to play and all of us in the energy sector need to lead the transition for the benefit of all our citizens,” said Tau.  

In looking for sustainable solutions, Tau turned to technology as the key driver to changes in the energy sector.

“Technological innovation is driving massive change on a huge scale throughout the energy industry. Collectively, as government we have a responsibility to ensure that these innovations result in a reliable, cleaner and more affordable energy system. 

“This requires the right policies and legislative frameworks and a major shift from those regulations that constrain innovation and new solutions,” he said.

Tau called on government to take the lead to encourage and support innovation and new technologies to transition to sustainable solutions.  

“This means taking the transition to the next level where we jointly create enabling policy frameworks and coordinate across sectors to embrace and institutionalise this transition. To accelerate the process, we need innovation in our business models, in market design and models for cooperation,” said Tau. 

He added that government needed to provide a conducive environment that will attract investment which will fuel the energy transition.

“We must create the right conditions and certainty for investment in our transition to sustainable and clean energy, including investment in new technologies, in energy efficiency, in smart grids and increasing the capacity of the energy sector. 

“Let’s find strategies to accelerate the uptake of renewable energy in the financing and development of new infrastructure,” said Tau. –

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