There is a lot going on at Eskom. It is estimated that Eskom is overstaffed by between 66 & 35% depending on your sources. The spiralling debt problem is also a concern with Soweto’s debt increasing by another couple of billion since it was brought to the public’s attention. The Unions are a large part of the problem, and their logic means that Eskom must retain staff and fail, the bigger picture seems to have no part in the debacle.

Some simple questions need to be asked, more rhetorical than actual questions:

How long will it take to fix Eskom. How long is a piece of string? No remedial action has been taken in terms of reducing the staff compliment or even taking action agsint the graft that is continuing whilst our two white elephant are being milked for every penny possible. This needs to be low hanging fruit, but even that is not being plucked.

Is Eskom viable. Not likely, the more renewables improve in efficiency and cost, the less likely Eskom (as a generation source) is going to be relevant in the very near future. There is a future for Eskom in terms of managing distribution, maintaining the grid connecting all the various small scale embedded generation plants (SSEG) and ensuring that these are compliant. There is a looming problem in that there appears to be a lack of vision in seeing this opportunity and making it work.

Storage is still relativly expensive. We have moved on from short term lead batteries, to gel batteries and more recently Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries. Sodium is the next stage in battery life but it is still early days but technology and demand is forcing great strides in storage solutions.

Have a look around the roofs of Johannesburg, solar panels are becoming the norm. Yes! It is expensive to install a hybrid system with the biggest expense being the battery required in order to run your business during nightime or when the grid goes down, but what is the cost of not being able to do business at your busiest time, or even your quiet time for that matter. In todays tough enviroment, every cent you save is a cent earned.

Despite government and trade unions best efforts, the generation side of the Eskom business is doomed to fail. In 5 years time as remarkable adaptable South Africans ‘make a plan’ the reliance on Eskom to generate power will be much less of an issue, but if they start boxing smart and get the distribution and maintenace aspects of that business right, they may still have a fighting chance of being relevant.

The only thing standing in most people’s way is having their SSEG application approved by the same municpalities that charge them for electricity that they cannot provide. There is not much incentive for them to do so.

Have a gander at BizNews article that lays out the stats, facts and other detail.

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