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Smart Electricity: a roadmap to a modern infrastructure for South Africa

We want to see energy used more efficiently

We want to see energy used more efficiently

Fast-tracking our transition to a healthy, modern,
affordable electricity supply for all.

Project 90 by 2030 hosts the Electricity governance initiative of South Africa (EGI-SA) which is made up of a dedicated group of justice oriented organisations. Given South Africa’s energy intensive economy, we are driven by a desire to create a society where our Electricity policy environment can better enable the well-being of people and planet.

In partnership with SAFCEI, 350.org, Green Connection, Gender cc and the University of Cape Town we have been updating research we undertook in 2010 to produce an evidence base for how electricity planning can be improved.

We have released our Smart Electricity Planning report. This report reveals how an innovative focus on energy efficiency and renewable energy in particular offer more elegant solutions than a dogged persistence with outdated, utility-scale electricity planning.

Our report provides a fresh look at electricity demand, and reviews available energy conservation and efficiency technologies for key economic sectors and debunks the outdated belief that South Africa’s electricity supply can only be satisfied affordably and reliably using utility-scale power generators.

KEY MESSAGES:

  1. The current electricity infrastructure is expensive and unhealthy for people and the life-supporting natural systems that everyone is dependent upon.
  2. By phasing out fossil and nuclear power, South Africa will remain globally relevant as it recognises and benefits from the changing international trends and attitudes around electricity production, technological advances in the field of energy, and concerns over climate change.
  3. Phasing in increasingly affordable renewable energy technology will create jobs, reduce the country‟s high carbon emissions and keep the economy competitive.
  4. Electricity is vital for the development of a thriving society, and there are many new, modern and innovative ways to provide electricity services. The electricity grid of the future is decentralised, where independent power suppliers feed electricity into a state-maintained grid infrastructure.
  5. Limiting investment: by building more utility-scale, expensive, centralised electricity supply plants will lock the country into an increasingly outmoded, inefficient electricity system.
  6. South Africa‟s existing electricity plan is built on inflated electricity demand projections. This will result in expensive infrastructure investment which will push up the cost of electricity, impacting the whole economy and further marginalising the poor.
  7. With proactive electricity conservation and efficiency measures, using existing technology, South Africa can reduce its electricity demand by 16% by 2030 without constraining economic growth. This report shows realistic and promising opportunities for conservation and efficiency across the residential, commercial, mining and industrial sectors.
  8. Renewable energy is a viable way to meet South Africa‟s energy demands. It is getting more and more affordable as technology improves, economies of scale kick in, financing mechanisms mature, practical constraints are overcome and public policy begins to take account of the negative impacts and true costs of fossil and nuclear power.
  9. By tapping into South Africa’s abundant wind and solar potential, investment in renewable energy can stimulate economic growth, create abundant and sustainable new jobs, replace outmoded fossil fuel-based jobs and have positive knock-on effects, including for the poor and for rural livelihoods.
  10. Progressive electricity tariff structures, incentives and appropriate metering in the municipal electricity distribution side of the supply chain, can overcome some of the structural hurdles that lock local authorities into needing to generate cash flows from electricity sales.

We have also produced a series of fact sheets each focusing on a different aspect of the report which we will be blogging about each week – so keep a look out for our upcoming weekly series. For more information on our report please email info@90×2030.org.za

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