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Eskom (read South Africa) has a dim future - a stroke of the pen can fix it all

3 September 2020 9:52 AM
Tags:
Eskom
Electricity
Load shedding
Medupi
Renewable energy
Independent Power Producers
Electricity supply
Wind
Anton Eberhard
Refilwe Moloto
ipp
IPPs
eskom debt
solar
kusile
Breakfast with Refilwe Moloto
death spiral

"Allowing consumers to generate and sell their own electricity can make a difference within months," says Prof Anton Eberhard.

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By the end of March 2020, Eskom sat on a R488 billion debt mountain (up from R440 billion a year before).

A candle (our "go-to" stock image for Eskom). © alekseitim/123rf.com

Eskom has been downgraded 10 times by rating agencies in the last 12 years. It spent R70 billion in the past financial year on interest and principal repayments… rising to R95 billion this year – nearly half of Eskom’s revenue goes to debt servicing.

Professor Anton Eberhard, energy policy and investment specialist

Eskom has to borrow to pay its debt. It’s entirely reliant on bailouts – which total R188 billion since 2008…

Professor Anton Eberhard, energy policy and investment specialist

Despite billions upon billions being thrown at it since the start of this crisis 13 years ago, its infrastructure keeps on breaking down.

Eskom is unable to supply even enough electricity for the tepid demand of an economy in its deepest recession on record.

Medupi and Kusile being late contributes to the issues but the main reason the lights are going off is that Eskom is unable to keep its old coal power stations going. Many of those are older than 50 years – some of them should’ve been shut down. It’s extremely difficult to keep them going.

Professor Anton Eberhard, energy policy and investment specialist

Eskom painted a dim financial picture on Wednesday during a briefing to the appropriations committee.

It’s trying to claw back money from numerous questionable contracts.

Refilwe Moloto interviewed energy policy and investment specialist, Professor Anton Eberhard, about Eskom's ever-growing debt, and why it could mean load shedding into 2022 and beyond.

Ongoing load shedding in the next months and years is probable unless we start accelerating investment in new generation… It’s not difficult! But we’re being very, very slow in making key decisions, and implementing them…

Professor Anton Eberhard, energy policy and investment specialist

The Minister still hasn’t issued instructions to the IPP [Independent Power Producers] offers… procuring new solar, wind and batteries…

Professor Anton Eberhard, energy policy and investment specialist

What can make a difference within months, is freeing up the market for distributed energy generation – in other words, allowing consumers to make their own solutions – rooftop solar and batteries. It’s easy to reform regulations… freeing up a huge amount of investment in rooftop solar and mines and industries building their own generation…

Professor Anton Eberhard, energy policy and investment specialist

What’s bankrupted Eskom is Medupi and Kusile… Because of its debt, there’s no possibility for new finance for new generation capacity… We need to accelerate IPPs coming in at utility-scale and… to let consumers become producers of electricity.

Professor Anton Eberhard, energy policy and investment specialist

Because Eskom is a virtual monopoly, if you deny them their requested tariffs, then who provides the shortfall? The taxpayer! It’s a catch-22… we need to diversify our energy supply…

Professor Anton Eberhard, energy policy and investment specialist

It’s a death spiral - Eskom isn’t selling enough electricity, so it hikes tariffs, and people use even less… Eskom as an old, traditional utility is in that space – another reason to open the market for a very wide range of actors…

Professor Anton Eberhard, energy policy and investment specialist

Listen to the interview in the audio below.




3 September 2020 9:52 AM
Tags:
Eskom
Electricity
Load shedding
Medupi
Renewable energy
Independent Power Producers
Electricity supply
Wind
Anton Eberhard
Refilwe Moloto
ipp
IPPs
eskom debt
solar
kusile
Breakfast with Refilwe Moloto
death spiral

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