To ensure that supply meets increasing demand, Southern African countries need diverse energy sources and an overhauled infrastructure, contends Grant Pattison, Chairperson of NRG Renew Africa, calling for alternative energy solutions to become part of the future energy mix.
Pattison warns that, as millions of new households consume power from national grids, coal-fired or nuclear sources will not be able to keep up with pace. “The future of energy is changing. Where South Africa used to have one large centrally controlled transmission network, with the increase in gas and solar power and production efficiency high at the point of production, there is a very real business case for cutting the cost of transmission altogether and producing energy at the point of need.”
However, the main snag that most southern African countries face is that, despite having significant natural energy sources, they lack the wherewithal funds to embark on projects.
The practical way in which alternative energy sources can be explored is through private-public partnerships, suggests Pattison.
“There needs to be a hybrid solution whereby there is central control over planning but, decentralised energy production, funded through government and private funding. State-run utilities no longer meet all energy needs and so distributed generation is the global trend for the future.”