African Utility Week: energy expert Ted Blom warns of a rise in “DYI electricity”

This warning was in sharp contrast to Eskom interim CEO Phakamani Hadebe’s address earlier the day. Hadebe told delegates Eskom plans to play a bigger role in Africa.

“Energy is the lifeblood of Africa and it is a human right. It is not optional. It is essential.  It is for this reason we should see ourselves as not representing utilities or countries but the continent.”

Blom however sketched a far direr picture for Eskom locally.  “We are sitting with a broken energy department,” he said citing a litany of problems including corruption and unethical leadership at the power utility and the country’s energy department. Blom referred to the 27 renewable energy projects signed with independent private producers last month. He highlighted that Eskom, due to contractual constraints, has become the “supplier of last resort” with serious consequences for its revenue generation. “Even under the new administration there is still a “lack of funds and lack of professional direction because the new Eskom board has no real energy experience and are guided by those that plundered Eskom and drove it into the ground”. He compared the situation under the new administration to “changing chairs on the Titanic”.

Caption: Ted Blom addresses the media at African Utility Week

“The bottom line is South Africans are not getting the cheapest energy,” he said. “Given this mess and the lack of energy reliability we are going to see a very liberated energy sector in this part of the world,” he warned. “This means people are going to employ survival strategies and will do what they have to do to survive the electricity crisis because it is not over yet.”

Blom said in terms of his roadmap for South Africa’s energy future the country will see a rise in what he calls DIY-electricity. “We are going to have a situation where households and light industries which are not energy intensive will do their own thing because their needs are not met now. They can do it far cheaper if they do it on their own in a collaborative way. So micro grids are bound to explode.” It is not all doom and gloom. Blom said he foresees massive technological breakthroughs in terms of DIY-electricity and new energy storage solutions. He warned however: “With the lack of pressure on utilities we will see a cost runaway and a dilapidated grid with no money to fix it and eventually a meltdown. It might happen in one day or in ten years,” he said.

-    Written by Alicestine October

Issued by African Utility Week:

Dates for African Utility Week:
Conference and expo: 15-17 May 2018
Awards gala dinner:  16 May 2018
Site visits: 18 May 2018
Location: CTICC, Cape Town, South Africa

Website: http://www.african-utility-week.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AfricaUtilities    #AUW2018
Linkedin: African Utility Week

Contact:
Senior communications manager:  Annemarie Roodbol
Telephone:  +27 21 700 3558
Mobile:  +27 82 562 7844
Email:  annemarie.roodbol@spintelligent.com