/ 7 June 2007

Diversifying the energy mix

The strategic intent of Eskom Holdings Limited is to build the power base for sustainable growth and development, gene-rating a sustainable foundation for growth and creating value for stakeholders and society, while reducing the safety, health and environmental impact of our operations.

The strategic intent of Eskom Holdings Limited is to build the power base for sustainable growth and development, gene-rating a sustainable foundation for growth and creating value for stakeholders and society, while reducing the safety, health and environmental impact of our operations.

Eskom’s investment strategy for the current 20-year planning horizon clearly illustrates South Africa’s dependence on coal. However, in planning for future electricity supply, Eskom has committed itself to investigating options for the diversification of the energy mix in South Africa. That includes focusing on gas technologies, nuclear, large hydro imports from neighbouring countries and other renewables, such as solar and wind energy projects.

Eskom is investigating several options of nuclear technologies for possible deployment as a base load generation option. Eskom has developed a renewable energy strategy, which supports the South African government’s White Paper on renewable energy.

The two most advanced areas under investigation are solar and wind power. A 100MW wind facility is being planned and Eskom is simultaneously intensifying its Demand Side Management (DSM) programme, which is a process that influences the way electricity is used by customers.

The issue of climate change and the continuing increase in atmospheric greenhouse gas emissions is increasing in importance. Eskom’s climate change strategy is geared to address climate change-related issues in a pragmatic way that is cognisant of particular South African circumstances, such as the abundance of coal.

The strategy emphasises a number of areas, including the importance of diversification to embrace all alternatives, energy efficiency, adaptation and integrated decision-making that takes into account all three areas of sustainable development.

With DSM everyone benefits in the following ways:

reduced electricity demand during peak periods, thus delaying additional capital investment to further increase electricity supply;

improved value of electricity service to customers by reducing costs;

  • customers have a wide range of energy-efficient options and financial benefits;
  • conservation of the environment by reducing emissions and water consumption at power stations;
  • support of macro-economic development through job creation and improved productivity; and
  • contribution to addressing the affordability of electricity to low-income consumers.
  • Due to the long-term nature of the electricity business (plant life in excess of 40 years and Eskom’s strategic intent), it is critical that an integrated process is developed for addressing internal and external energy efficiency. That is why Eskom launched an internal energy efficiency programme, the Billion Kilowatt-Hour programme, last year to lead the way to save electricity.

    The primary objective of the Billion Kilowatt-Hour Savings Project is to reduce Eskom’s internal consumption of electricity by a billion kilowatt-hours through the implementation of internal energy-efficiency projects. The campaign focuses on energy savings within Eskom and by Eskom staff at home. The intention is to cultivate and entrench an “energy-efficiency culture” within the organisation that will permeate into broader society in time.

    It is appropriate that Eskom should take part in the Mail & Guardian‘s fifth successful Greening the Future Awards as they continue to honour and celebrate the achievements by companies and organisations that are playing a role in the efforts to ensure a sustained and healthy planet for all people.

    Enviropaedia goes online

    Environmental information and networking source bible The Enviropaedia went online this week. The updated facts, information and databases of this highly popular book are now available at www.enviropaedia.com. The website provides a sustainable lifestyle guide that tells people how to reduce their impact on the environment and be a part of the solution to global warming.

    The Enviropaedia brings together information from South Africa’s leading specialists in the environmental and sustainable development fields and facilitates debate on many controversial issues, such as nuclear power and genetically modified organisms. It provides leading-edge thinking, science and research, terms, definitions and explanations and a network of relevant organisations.

    “The site has been created as a free environmental education and awareness resource for government, business, NGOs, media, schools and researchers,” said David Parry-Davies, editor of The Enviropaedia. “As there are many conflicting interests and opinions regarding the environmental challenges that we now face Enviropaedia Online has been designed to build bridges of common understanding between the stakeholders and promote positive public participation and constructive engagement to achieve effective mutually acceptable solutions to the challenges we face.”

    Yolan Friedmann, chief executive of the Endangered Wildlife Trust, said her organisation was proud to be associated with The Enviropaedia. “Enviropaedia Online is jammed with essential contacts and networking information and offers informed comment on issues of sustainability and environmental conservation as a means of stimulating debate and reflection on the biggest issues facing our planet in modern times.”