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I feel obliged to respond to Van Rensburg’s latest comments in “Practicing the full monty” (PositionIT of April/May 2013), which seems to be a continuation of his previous article on the same topic called “Land surveyors involvement with pre- and post-survey activities” in PositionIT of September 2012. Van Rensburg’s alarmist views of a survey profession seemingly in crisis are not shared by all and therefore demand further discourse… (more)


by Chris Yelland, managing director, EE Publishers

Chris Yelland speaking on Radio 702 on Friday 7 January 2011 with Stephen Grootes, discussing Eskom and the state of the electricity power system in South Africa.

Click here to listen to the discussion (MP3 audio file)

by Mike Rycroft, editor of Energize

This article was first published in Critical Thinking Forum, a supplement to the Mail & Guardian,

Three announcements in the last few weeks have created new hope that the long-awaited renewable energy (RE) programme will get underway, namely: the request-for-information on renewable energy projects from the Department of Energy (DoE); the announcement by the minister of energy of the establishment of a solar park in the Upington area; and the release of the draft integrated resource plan for electricity (IRP2010) for public comment… (more)

by EE Publishers staff reporter
Various media have already reported Anglo American CEO Cynthia Carroll as saying that Anglo would consider investing in a power station if necessary. Fin24 has reported sighting documents showing that Anglo is being considered as an investor in Kusile, the R142-billion coal-fired power station being built near Delmas, in which Eskom is seeking a 30% to 49% private equity partner, although this has since been denied. Now the Anglo website has officially announced its study for the construction of a new coal-fired power station using circulating fluidised-bed combustion technology. What will be next?… (more)

by Chris Yelland, EE Publishers

On Thursday 29 October, well over a week ago, a fateful Eskom board meeting heralded an unprecedented management crisis within this key South African state-owned enterprise.

The company is still reeling from a generation capacity crisis, the power black-outs of 2008, a serious skills shortage, a funding crisis for its new-build programme, and applications to the Regulator that would increase the price of electricity five-fold over the five-year period from 2008 to 2012.

Of course it is no coincidence that the new crisis has occurred at this critical juncture. In fact, this latest management crisis is simply a manifestation of the convergence of pressures and tensions arising from these and manyother issues at this time… (more)

Companies rely on a UPS to deliver continuous power without any disruption to their business, a maintenance plan is a critical component in ensuring that a UPS minimises the risks of downtime and performs as expected. Implementing a preventive maintenance service plan for a UPS is much like completing routine repairs and inspections on a vehicle. Not only is completing scheduled maintenance recommended by every auto manufacturer, but the findings can help detect a wide range of ailments before they become serious issues. In the same way, preventive maintenance helps ensure the ongoing integrity of the UPS… (more)

Over the last 10 years the electricity reserve margin in South Africa, has been steadily declining, due to increasing demand for power and limited new generation capacity being commissioned. In 2006, regional load shedding was required due to network inadequacies and insufficient regional generation resources. In early 2007, the first incident of national load shedding occurred due to the inability to supply demand with the operational generation capacity… (more)

Doug_KuniIf there are not sufficient megawatts under construction, the problem will not go away – irrespective of how much we talk. We can mitigate the extent to which we feel the pain, by means of the PCP (Power Conservation Program, where large users must cut 10% or face penalties), and energy efficiency measures such solar heaters, light bulbs etc. But that will not make the problem go away. And economic growth will be proportional to the new megawatts coming on stream. So why aren’t there sufficient megawatts under construction?… (more)

An interview with Doug Kuni, managing director of the South African Independent Power Producers Association (SAIPPA)

by Chris Yelland, managing director of EE Publishers

In this interview, Chris Yelland, managing director of EE Publishers, questions Doug Kuni, formerly from Eskom Generation, now a private consultant and managing director of the newly formed South African Independent Power Producers Association (SAIPPA), on the issues surrounding Eskom and IPPs in South Africa.

Audio-cast: Listen to the full interview with Doug Kuni (MP3 file)

Read the full interview and get the answers to the questions:

  1. Mr. Kuni, to what extent do you believe that South Africa needs IPPs and industrial co-generation as part of the solution to South Africa’s generation capacity crisis, and what advantages do IPPs bring?
  2. There has been talk of getting IPPs into the generation mix in South Africa for over ten years, but we still see few signs of progress. What is really going on, and what is it that is holding South Africa back?
  3. Do you believe that Eskom can be an honest broker as a generation project specifier, evaluator, adjudicator, power purchaser and competitor of IPPs, or is the conflict of interest a big problem?
  4. To what extent do you believe Eskom is hostile to IPPs and tries to keep them out?
  5. Please can you respond to statements often made to justify Eskom’s new build programme, namely that IPPs had not come to the table because they could not compete with Eskom’s very efficient and superior generation operation, and that this was therefore some kind of market failure?
  6. Please can you respond to statements often made by Eskom that it generates electricity at about half the price offered by IPPs, and that the country should therefore be wary of the IPP option?
  7. Eskom has commissioned some 2000 MW of OCGT (open cycle gas turbine) generation in the Cape. Since the operating costs are very high, has this helped or hindered the situation in South Africa, and should this have been left to IPPs?
  8. With the extremely high cost of operating the OCGTs, and the cost of Eskom’s new build programme spiralling upwards, how do IPPs feel about Eskom’s claims that they (IPPs) come at a high cost compared to Eskom?
  9. Is the current Eskom generation build programme (i.e. the return-to-service of mothballed power stations, OCGTs in the Western Cape, the Medupi and Kusile coal-fired power stations , and the Ingula and Tubatse pumped storage schemes) South Africa’s best and least-cost option for generation capacity to meet the demand forecast over the next 20 years and more?
  10. Is there adequate understanding within government, the DoE, DTI, DPE, Treasury, Regulator and Eskom of the electricity supply industry and its dynamics?
  11. In an environment of severe government and Eskom funding constraints, to what extent can IPPs alleviate the burden being felt by Eskom, the Treasury and the country?
  12. What do you make of the government and Eskom’s funding of the development of the pebble bed modular reactor (PBMR), and should they be involved in this?
  13. Should Eskom involve itself in wind, concentrating solar, photo-voltaic solar, small hydro and other renewable energy projects, or should this be left to IPPs?

… (more)

It is an incontrovertible fact that ever since that marvellous invention of that genius Faraday and that somewhat strange man Tesla, and that loud Yankee from Menlo Park, electricity has been harnessed for the greater good of man – and dare I say it, womanhood. Economies rise and fall not so much by the rise and fall of empires any longer, but by the price of electricity; nowhere more so than in a country that thrives on mines and heavy industry, smelters and furnaces. It is therefore all the more disturbing – disappointing? – in any case, outrageous, the way the price of electricity in your beloved country has escalated of late… (more)

An interview with Dr. Ian McRae, former Eskom chief executive and chairman of the NER

by Chris Yelland, managing director of EE Publishers

In this interview, Chris Yelland, managing director of EE Publishers, questions Dr. Ian McRae on the state of the electricity supply industry and the electricity issues facing South Africa.

Dr. McRae was chief executive of Eskom from 1985 to 1994, and was subsequently the first executive chairman and chief executive of the NER (National Electricity Regulator) from 1995 to 1997. It was during Dr. McRae’s time as head of Eskom Generation that the current fleet of large coal-fired power stations, the Koeberg nuclear power station, the hydro-electric power stations of the Orange River, and the Drakensberg pumped water storage scheme, were all built. In 1990, as Eskom chief executive, he also embarked Eskom on one of the world’s largest mass electrification programmes, under the slogan: “Electricity for all”.

Dr. McRae has written a book entitled “The test of leadership – 50 years in the electricity supply industry of Southern Africa”, published by EE Publishers. The first printing of the book was completely sold out, and the book is now in its second edition, available from EE Publishers, South Africa.

Read the full interview and get the answers to the questions:

  1. Dr. McRae, what has prompted you to speak out now on the electricity issues facing South Africa?
  2. What decisions or indecisions by government do you believe have contributed to the current electricity problems in South Africa?
  3. What do you believe is the role and responsibility of the Eskom board of directors in all this?
  4. As the first chief executive and chairman of the National Electricity Regulator in South Africa, do you think the Regulator has alleviated or accentuated the electricity problems facing the country?
  5. To what extent has inadequate planning, for example in the Western Cape, had on the security of supply of the country?
  6. What do you think has been the role of deficient coal procurement practices and coal supply in the problems experienced?
  7. Do you believe that there is a skills crisis in the electricity supply industry, and if so, what has been the impact?
  8. Do you believe that inadequate financial planning by Eskom and the responsible government departments is affecting the electricity supply industry and the country?
  9. So what should be done about it? Please can you give some pointers on what you think the leaders in the electricity supply industry should be doing?

… (more)

An interview with Brian Dames, COO of Eskom Generation, by EE Publishers MD Chris Yelland.

Audio-cast: Listen to the full interview with Brian Dames (MP3 file)

EE Publishers MD Chris Yelland questions Brian Dames, COO of Eskom Generation, on electricity generation policy in South Africa, with particular reference to Eskom’s generation capacity planning and mix in the years ahead.

Read the interview and get Brian Dames’views:

Audio-cast: Listen to the full interview with Brian Dames (MP3 file)

Eskom Chairman Bobby Godsell was the guest speaker at EE Publishers’ Executive Business Briefing on 6 February 2009, where he presented on the energy crisis and the way forward for South Africa. Listen to an audio recording of his presentation here… (more)

Audio-cast: Bobby Godsell speaks out (2,8 MB MP3 file)

There once was a big, mean, ugly, hairy and hungry wolf that roamed the countryside looking for something to devour. Its food reserves for the winter, buried during the heydays of summer when sheep were plentiful and it couldn’t possibly eat them all, had all been squandered in frenzied orgies of gluttonous revelry. Now the chickens wouldn’t even come home to roost, and the beast was in dire straights indeed… (more)

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