After Eskom: How can South African cities power their future

green-building

Amid the Eskom“crisis” very few have much good to say about this government agency, even when the lights are not out South Africans anxiously await the announcement of the next bout of outages. But could this “crisis” be turned into an opportunity? For South African cities it could become an opportunity to seize the moment and move away from coal powered electricity generation to renewable energy – and take the lead in the energy future of the country. In order for this opportunity to be realised and taken full advantage of, cities and citizens would need to step up to the plate and engage with new ideas and roles to drive energy generation in direction of renewables.

The grim outlook on the energy crisis is portrayed in the media almost daily. South Africa’s hopes of becoming one of the world’s top renewable energy hubs are “dimming due to poor infrastructure and delays as cash-strapped state utility Eskom is distracted by a scramble to keep the lights on” says Wendell Roelf in a recent Reuters article .

This appears to be a contradiction. Should the failure of Eskom to keep the lights on not be aiding the hopes and opportunity for South Africa to become one of the world’s top renewable energy hubs? The lack of Eskom’s success provides South Africa with the ideal opportunity to grow its renewable energy sector. If Eskom was not experiencing such challenges why would anyone try to change it?

While there is no certainty on how South Africa’s cities will grow and what their exact demands will be going into the future it is important to consider the potential direction that the energy sector is heading, and should be heading, if cities are to play a larger role in securing their energy future.

Article originally on Future Cape Town