Electrical Disruption South African Style: Options looking forward

Today’s Washington Post had a long story about electricity supply disruption in South Africa.  Reading it, a clear conclusion: South Africa hasn’t been building coal-fired electricity plants fast enough to keep up with growing demand. 

The blackouts are the result of surging demand and stagnant supply, exacerbated by a failed push toward privatization that made it difficult for Eskom to build the power plants needed to serve new customers in this country of 44 million. 

Yes, demand has been rising faster than supply, but the problem identified is not enough privatization.   

But, the article has not a word about demand destruction (controlling demand), efficiency, or renewable power.  There are tremendous opportunities for these in South Africa.

To the extent that distributed power generation made the discussion, it was about commercial establishments buying generators.

Again, whether solar power or small-scale wind, there are real opportunities for creating sustainable local systems to backup the grid.

The good news in the story: white and black, rich and poor, are all suffering disruptions in their electrical power supply, with rotating blackouts hitting all neighborhoods.

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