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Peters: Transform electricity system

Jul 19 2012 17:42 Sapa

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Johannesburg - The electricity system in South Africa needs to be transformed, Energy Minister Dipuo Peters said on Thursday.

"We need to start with government," Peters said at the SA National Energy Development Institute (Sanedi) in Johannesburg.

"Money has been set aside in the budget for energy efficiency."


Peters said it was heartbreaking when a few years ago the department of public works had failed to spend the money allocated.


"Sanedi now supports government," she said.


Peters said Sanedi was expected to help the government. She said power pools in South Africa needed to be strengthened, and for this to happen investment was needed.


Sanedi had established a strategic plan, part of which was establishing "smarter" power grids.


"The smarter the grid the better the service... we can deliver."


A smart grid uses technology to gather information about the behavior of suppliers and consumers, to improve the efficiency and reliability of electricity production and distribution.


Alternative power sources were being looked at to power government institutions such as hospitals.


Peters said Sanedi was also negotiating with the department of transport to ensure that the sector was transformed.


For example it would be cheaper for taxis to run on gas rather than petrol, and this would create lower emissions.


"We promoting the use of cleaner fuels," she said.


"This is in line with our commitment to a green economy. Transport is virtually an untapped sandbox (sic)."


Peters said Sanedi was also working with the department of trade and industry to make sure that anything that was built was energy efficient. This would be achieved through the building codes.


"Even the type of paint you use can contribute to energy efficiency," she said.


There was also appliance labeling on electrical equipment.


"Can you identify what's energy efficient? We need to make communities aware.


"We need to start becoming energy consumer conscious."


Peters said South Africans needed to be educated about alternative energy sources.


She urged South Africans to install solar water heaters in their homes, as she had done.


"You will save at least 50% (on your electricity bill)... Install that solar water heater.


"I know people like things for mahala (free); this is half mahala." Peters said if one million solar water heaters were installed in South Africa by 2014, the country would save 3000 megawatts.


"Save us from building another coal power plant... make a personal contribution as a family and as an individual."

She said Africa needed to move away from being the darkest continent at night.

"There are little sparkles in Africa. There are a few in South Africa, Nigeria, and Egypt, but the rest (of Africa) is dark," Peters said.

"Sanedi as an entity is responsible for energy research... We should be well positioned to help identify future energy needs. This has been declared the year of energy by the United Nations."

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dipuo peters  |  electricity
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