Johannesburg - Decisions on South
Africa's future energy supply should be made early to cope with rising
demand, Eskom CEO Brian Dames said on Tuesday.
"We must decide now to build the next power plant. We
must not make the mistake to build when it is too late," he told the
African Utility Week exhibition in Johannesburg.
Electricity is a long-term industry where decisions
shape the future prospects of both the industry and economic growth,
With urbanisation and technology pushing up electricity
demand worldwide, investing in infrastructure is important as South
Africa gradually moves away from coal towards nuclear and renewable
"The economics of renewables are increasingly attractive," said Dames.
Dames said Eskom has added 5700 megawatts (MW) to the
national power grid since 2005 and intends to have added 11 000 MW by
the end of the decade.
South Africa's concerns about energy supply will
subside as capacity to generate power increases, but other countries in
Africa are not so fortunate.
It is in the country's interest to facilitate increased power capacity on the continent, he said.
While Eskom is not concerned about meeting demand as
winter deepens, there is concern about reserves for
maintenance, said Dames.
This is partly why Eskom has stepped up maintenance operations over the last few months.
Dames called on South Africans to save energy, citing the 2 000 MW daily increase in demand between 17:00 and 21:00 in winter.
He said he hopes all households in South Africa will
have electricity by 2030. Between 2.5 to 3 million homes are still not
connected to the national power grid.
Turning to tariffs, Dames said South Africa's
electricity prices are not yet cost effective. Increases over a longer
period of time, matching the rise in inflation, are where tariff
increases should eventually settle.
He said if increased capacity is created, it has to be paid for.
The growth in energy supply needs to be more efficient and address climate change while keeping the lights on, Dames said.