SA not energy efficient enough, says minister

Friday, April 3, 2009

Pretoria - Despite energy saving campaigns such as Earth Hour, South Africa is still battling to create a healthy electricity reserve margin.

"A healthy electricity reserve margin sits at 17 to 20 percent, an amount that ensures that sudden changes in demand or supply and power-plant maintenance do not cause blackouts, but South Africa's reserve margin remains much lower than that," said Minerals and Energy Minister Buyelwa Sonjica.

The Earth Hour campaign, which saw thousands of South Africans switching off their lights for an hour on Saturday, was reported to have saved 400 kilowatts.

Two years ago, the minister warned that South Africans needed to start saving 10 percent of their electricity usage every year for the next five years or the energy supply would be threatened.

"The recent lack of blackouts has led to the assumption that our energy situation has been resolved. Unfortunately this is far from the truth. We are in trouble unless we all begin to take responsibility for our habits of energy wastage."

In early 2008, periodic blackouts across the country left many South Africans frustrated and business suffered, yet by October of the same year only 0.4 percent had been saved.

The minister said South Africa was one of the least energy efficient nations in the world and the least efficient in Africa.

"South Africa also holds the number 11 spot on the top 20 greenhouse gas emitters list and is responsible for 42 percent of Africa's emissions," she said.

However, South Africa is not alone in the energy emergency it is facing today.

"Energy sustainability has become an issue that no country, industry or individual can afford to ignore. We can easily reach our 10 percent target simply by making small changes in our homes and businesses," said the minister.

Every kilowatt of electricity you use produces 1 kilogram of carbon dioxide; one of the main greenhouse gases.