Improving tariff viability in SADC: Challenges and opportunities for regional utilities
SADC has embarked on a programme for the past four years to commission new or rehabilitate existing projects to improve its energy needs. The target is to generate more electricity so the region achieves the desired collective 10 percent surplus power generation capacity by 2013 that is necessary to guarantee system reliability. The challenge gets even more complex given that the region is chasing a moving target, with demand expanding by between 2,200 and 2,500 MW a year.
How can SADC meet the region’s energy challenges?
1. The Challenge SADC’s overall objective in the energy sector is “to ensure the availability of sufficient, reliable and least cost energy supplies.” This is a broad and ambitious goal, and numerous studies have been carried out to find viable solutions. The challenge can be identified on two levels.
Large scale The inadequate availability of electrical power to meet the demand from industry, commercial activity, public institutions and households, generally perceived as the region’s “Power Crisis”, and extensively described and discussed over the last decade. Remedies include megaprojects requiring huge investments.
Small scale The inefficient use of basic primary energy, essentially biomass, among the majority of households in the region (more than 80 percent) that are not connected to the power grid. This crisis is less visible as it affects a part of the population without capacity and ability to speak up for their needs.
Expanding energy generation capacity in SADC
Challenges and Opportunities for Power Sector Infrastructure Development
The Southern African region has been experiencing power shortages going back four years due to a combination of factors that have contributed to a diminishing generation surplus capacity against increasing growth in demand. This situation has prompted some Member States to resort to various coping mechanisms that include load shedding as well as other demand-side management measures while longer term solutions are being sought to remedy the situation through improved supply.
Electric power is one of many sources of energy in SADC, along with fossil fuels and biofuels including biomass. Electricity in SADC comes from both renewable energy sources (hydroelectric, solar and wind power) and non-renewable sources (coal, diesel, natural gas and uranium).