No political party has a solution for load-shedding – professor

No political party in South Africa has a credible solution to end load-shedding, despite many claiming that the problem would be solved quickly if they were in power. 

This is feedback from energy analyst Professor Hartmut Winkler, who told the SABC that promises about the end of load-shedding are coming from all parties and are expected prior to an election. 

South Africa’s political parties are gearing up for what is expected to be the most fiercely contested elections in the country’s democratic history, with the ANC set to lose its majority. 

All the major parties have released their election manifestos and have presented their plans to tackle the country’s electricity crisis. 

“After all, we are going into an election season now, so the moment something goes wrong with Eskom, it is like manna from heaven for the opposition parties,” Winkler said. 

Eskom and electricity policy in South Africa have been hotly contested in the past few years, with many proposals on how to end load-shedding. 

However, Winkler said that while there are various paths to the end of load-shedding, none of the plans presented by political parties are credible, and neither will they bring it to a swift end. 

“The opposition parties are, of course, saying that if they were in government or if they were given a chance, things would be vastly different.”

“I don’t think it matters much. If one looks at the parties’ election manifestos, I do not think any party has a solution for fixing load-shedding immediately,” he said. 

“The ones that claim they do, I do not think know what they are talking about.” 

Winkler explained that there are multiple ways to end load-shedding, but no quick solutions exist, so any promises for a swift end to load-shedding are misleading. 

“Unfortunately for the ANC, being the governing party for the last 30 years, it will have to take the flak for whatever happens on the electricity front, and they have been.”

He estimated that the current electricity crisis cannot be solved within the next five years. Until new generation capacity is implemented, load-shedding is unlikely to improve.

“Just like an old car, once things get to that stage, you are just going to have those very frequent breakdowns,” he said.

He was optimistic about using renewable energy more to combat the energy crisis but cautioned that the government needs to agree on a transition strategy.

“At the moment, we don’t have a clear plan of where to go,” he said.

The solution ultimately lies in bringing in new generation infrastructure, but this takes more time and funding.

Winkler suggested that renewables could provide a portion of the country’s power, while new generative capacity for existing energy sources could service the remainder.

“The way to go is to install more renewables, get those up to the level where about half the country’s electricity is run off renewables – the rest off coal, nuclear and gas – and then see from there.”


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