Eskom and the future of Alternative Energy.

High-voltage lines for the long distance trans...Image via Wikipedia
It’s no secret that Eskom will be centric to driving the alternative energy industry market. They may or may not choose to own and operate alternative generation but, they are the ones to ultimately deliver the energy to the end customer. How well they can deliver on that responsibility has a lot to do with how satisfied customers are with the product. And ultimately, these customers will influence policy and therefore the growth rate of the alternative energy industry market in South Africa.
Meanwhile, they might have experienced flat or reduced revenues; have undergone austerity programs that could even include reductions in their work force. In this climate, any new generation resource brought up for consideration, regardless of the potential long-term benefits, will be met with opposition somewhere along the planning process.
Another common concern is the uncertainty of environmental policies. Changes in the generation fleet mix or adding on emissions controls is very capital intensive. They might “stay flexible” because of the vast array of possible changes they may have to make. This is one way of giving them more choices in uncertain times.

Another critical enabler is transmission capacity. The current electric transmission system was not built to meet modern needs — in the case of the transmission grid, the needs of an increasingly electronic society. 
All factors, however, point to the need for greater transmission capacity to enable moving alternative energy from the point of production to the load.
Transmission planning, permitting, and construction takes time, and so that process can also add uncertainty to their resource planning. Policy decisions concerning who will ultimately pay for this infrastructure also add time and complexity to the process.

After all, challenges have always been a part of both the utility’s world and that of the developer entrepreneur. It will take their collective skills, knowledge, and focus to take alternative energy to the next level.  

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