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South Africa is in Desperate Need of Load Management

Todd Carney's picture
Writer, Freelance

Todd Carney is a graduate of Harvard Law School. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Public Communications. He writes on many different aspects of energy, in particular how it...

  • Member since 2021
  • 131 items added with 26,806 views
  • May 25, 2023

Lately it seems every country is having issues with energy conservation. One country that is in a particularly perilous situation is South Africa. The BBC recently reported on this problem and what the nation is trying to do to solve the issue. The article started off showing the latest issue, where one of South Africa’s major turbines broke down. It seemed the breakdown came from some sort of sabotage. There are competing theories of why this occurred, such as political enemies of the government, or some repair company trying to extort more money for fixing the breakdown. 

Regardless of how this breakdown occurred, it is the symptom of greater issues with South Africa’s energy infrastructure. With this breakdown comes further political conflict, that could be out of a movie. Someone tried to assassinate Andre de Ruyter, the former CEO of South Africa’s leading energy company, Eskom, by slipping something in his coffee at his own company. There are cartels roaming the country, who have threatened several leaders in the energy company.

In response to these problems, energy companies have had to hire guards for power stations and to accompany trucks that carry coal. Some groups attack these trucks, and steal the coal for money. These actions have created “illegal coal mines” that have an underground trade. Additionally, these attacks are causing problems for the workability of South Africa’s infrastructure, because there are mass power outages in the nation.

Aside from these physical attacks, South Africa’s energy infrastructure has created other problems. Many complain that the use of coal is causing harsh pollution that results in health problems or even deaths for thousands of people every year. Eighty percent of South Africa’s energy comes from coal, and it is the 14th largest emitter of carbon dioxide globally, despite only having the 33rd biggest economy.

All of these issues have spurred Western nations to provide $8.5 billion in grants for South Africa to use to develop renewable energy. Many in South Africa are hopeful the nation could take advantage of solar and wind energy that are abundant in South Africa due to its natural climate. Many in the government and among South Africa’s citizens want the nation to pursue these options as fast as possible, because a failure to do so could bring even worse problems, including a total collapse of the nation’s energy system. Only time will tell if South Africa can get this done.



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