11 months ago

Service Issue 81

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Service magazine addresses key issues related to government leadership and service delivery in South Africa.

S energy Africa’s

S energy Africa’s energy future at a crossroad Africa can adopt renewable energy on a massive scale and save billions along the way. With Kenneth Engblom, vice president, Wartsila Energy W When it comes to building the future of energy in Africa, the decisions facing the continent’s leaders today are nothing less than of historical significance. Energy systems are the very fabric of business and society. Countries across Africa want to make good on their objective of building huge amounts of new generation capacity to anticipate vast increases in energy demand and set the continent on the path of development it deserves. Africa knows where it needs to go. The big question is how. And more specifically: what is the most cost-effective energy mix that can be built to deliver all the new electricity capacity that is needed? BILLIONS OF DOLLARS AT STAKE Technologies that are right for Europe based on its existing infrastructure, population density and natural resources can be wrong for others. Each region must find its own optimal way to build its energy system. Many African countries have one important point in common: maybe more than anywhere else, the models indicate that the best path to building the most cost-optimal energy system is to maximise the use of renewable energy. The cost of renewable energy equipment has decreased very rapidly in recent years and when this equipment runs on Africa’s massive solar and wind resources, what you have is a cost per KW/h produced that beats all other electricity technologies hands-down. If you add the fact that most electricity grids on the continent are relatively underdeveloped, favouring renewable energy over traditional power generation like coal or gas turbine power plants becomes a no-brainer. Although relatively ambitious renewable energy targets have been set by governments across the continent, these do not always go far enough. Contrary to what some industry and political leaders may believe, maximising the amount of renewable energy that can be built in the system is by far the cheapest strategy available, while at the same time ensuring a stable, reliable network. In Africa, renewables must become the new baseload. And yes, renewables are intermittent. But combining them with flexible power generation capacities will guarantee the stability of the grid and save billions of dollars along the way. THE INTERMITTENCY OF RENEWABLES It would be misguided to consider the intermittency of renewables as a showstopper. It is not, provided they are paired up with highlyflexible forms of electricity generation like gas engine power plants. To maintain a balanced system, flexible back-up and peak power must be available to ramp up production at the same rate that wind or solar production fluctuates, but also to match the fluctuating energy demand within the day. The systems must be able to respond to huge daily variations in a matter of seconds or minutes. A WINNING ENERGY STRATEGY Highly ambitious renewable energy objectives in Africa are not only achievable, but they are also the soundest and cheapest strategy for the successful electrification of the continent. Making smart strategy decisions will lead to more resilient electricity systems and offer vastly superior whole-system efficiencies. S 8 | Service magazine

energy S CLIMATE CHANGE AND SERVICE DELIVERY By Blessing Bongani Sibande, ACTIVATE! Change Drivers Regardless of the impact, climate change will require reassessing risks, costs and levels of service as well as the trade-offs among these for providing different services because the conditions are changing. What this means is that municipalities cannot continue to maintain the status quo as it may be more expensive in the long term and lead to lower climate change resilience. Municipalities should plan to evaluate service delivery planning, day-to-day operations, as well as the maintenance and replacement of infrastructure with climate change in mind. Climate considerations in service delivery • Use climate scenarios to understand how demands on infrastructure will change over time. • Monitor maintenance and repairs schedules to reflect changing conditions. • Update levels of service to mirror climate risks, including type, size and scale of services. • Evaluate changing risks, including the impact of climate change on asset lifespan. • Monitor and update environmental programmes and service delivery plans as additional information becomes available. Blessing Bongani Sibande • Identify and plan for adapting to new opportunities across services. • Determine appropriate timing for capital investments for adaptation, leveraging asset replacement and renewal. • Identify the impact of climate change on natural assets and the services that they provide. • Rehabilitate or protect natural assets that increase the resilience of service delivery systems. • Update design parameters to changing conditions. Service magazine | 9

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