Meeting with the Norwegian Parliamentary Standing Committee on Energy and Environmental Affairs

Energy

24 February 2015
Chairperson: Mr F Majola (ANC)
Share this page:

Meeting Summary

The Chairperson welcomed members of the Norwegian delegation and briefed them on South Africa’s energy status. He said government was making efforts to come up with possible solutions within the coming 18 months to generate more energy to counter the load shedding South Africa was currently experiencing due to the shortage of electricity.

Mr Ola Elvestuen, the Chairperson of the Energy and Environmental Affairs Committee from Norway, said he was looking forward to gaining more insight on South Africa’s energy status and the climate issue.

Members of the Norwegian Committee asked questions on South Africa’s plan to curb carbon emissions, the possible solutions South Africa had to provide sufficient energy, how far South Africa had gone on the use of alternative renewable energies and what was South Africa’s global view on carbon emissions, climate and clean renewable energy.

In response to the questions, a Committee Member said South Africa had a monopolised energy structure that did not accommodate the private sector and was not market friendly. Another Member said South Africa was targeting to reduce carbon emissions by 34% in 2020 and the construction of three power plants was underway. The Norwegian delegation was told that South Africa was in the process of launching a hydro power plant in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The Committee heard that South African politics had an impact on the passing of rational decisions hence affecting the government’s ability to deliver better services.

Meeting report

The Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee, in his opening remarks, welcomed the Norwegian Parliamentary Standing Committee on Energy and Environmental Affairs and announced that Mr L Greyling (DA) was attending his last session as a member of the Energy Portfolio Committee. He said the country was currently experiencing load shedding as a result of the shortage in electricity. South Africa relied on coal as means to energy production and was aware of the environmental effects. He said South Africa was engaging with other countries on energy matters and effort was being made that energy coming from renewable sources be channelled onto the national grid. The Chairperson said the State of the Nation Address (SONA) had emphasised the increased use of gas as part of the solution to the current energy shortage. Nuclear energy was expected to generate 9600megawatts aiding to the national grid. He said there were debates surrounding the energy structure, the financing of nuclear plants and security concerns surrounding the use of nuclear energy. The Chairperson said the Committee had agreed to move forward notwithstanding the possibility of ideological debates

The Chairperson then asked Members to introduce themselves beginning with the South African Committee.

Mr Ola Elvestuen, the Chairperson to the Norwegian Committee said 8 political parties were in the Norwegian parliament, and all 8 political parties were represented in the Committee. He looked forward to learning more on South Africa’s energy and climate issues.

The Chairperson said given the limited time, the Committee would engage in a brief discussion to explore issues on which they could possibly work on.

Discussion

The floor was open to Members of the Norwegian Parliamentary Standing Committee on Energy and Environmental Affairs. The following questions were asked:

How South Africa was going to meet the electricity shortage and was its current programme sufficient to meet the short term and long term challenges?

How did South Africa see its role in the global energy balance and how did it expect countries with higher carbon dioxide emissions per capita to behave in the near future?

Given the urgent need for massive energy production, how did South Africa perceive the economic structure? Was there need to include the private sector or it was a job for the public sector only?

The percentage per capita in carbon dioxide was higher than the average per capita in Europe. What was South Africa’s path to becoming a low emitting country?

What role did energy efficiency play in the debate, because producing electricity was one solution but the other solution was to increase the price of electricity to lower the demand, or measures to control energy on pick hours?

In Europe and in Norway energy infrastructure was paid by the consumers, in South Africa it was a different situation hence the interest was to know how the government managed this situation given that a significant population was not able to pay.

Response from the Energy Portfolio Committee South Africa

Mr L Greyling (DA) said one of the reasons why South Africa was facing the shortage of electricity was that the energy structure was a controlled system and there was the need for market liberalisation. 95% of the energy sector was controlled by Eskom with 48% being distributed while the rest went to municipalities. He said the government collectively was working together to allow the private sector to contribute to the national grid. He said municipalities had the potential to play a vital role in the energy efficiency and could help reduce the 3000megawatts demand.

Mr J Esterhuizen (IFP) said South Africa, unlike Norway that uses hydroelectricity, relied on fossil fuels and apart from producing energy fossil fuel had created job opportunities for the previously disadvantaged people. South Africa like Norway was in an attempt to double its budget spending on renewable energy.

Ms Mahambehlala said South Africa will not phase out nuclear energy at any point given that it was the hub of energy out sourcing to the neighbouring countries. South Africa had solar and wind farms as part of clean and renewable energy farms. She said South Africa, in terms of reducing emissions was targeting a 34% emissions reduction by 2020. Research on carbon dioxide storage was underway and the research findings would inform carbon dioxide storage. She said South Africa was in partnership with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) for a hydroelectric plant as part of cleaner renewable energy and that the construction of three power plants was underway as plan to boost energy production.

Mr G Mackay (DA) said rational decisions did not necessarily prevail over political decisions hence this affected the progress of government in addressing the energy shortage. On renewable energy, the treasury was financing the use of renewable energy. He said although there were renewable energy providers being paid by Eskom there had not been a way to bill the renewable energy when connected to the national grid. The geyser project to reduce electricity consumption of electricity by 100giga watts failed after the installation of 97 000 solar geysers and energy consumption was reduced by 70megawatts failing to meet the 100gigawatts target.

Mr Elvestuen said Norway had the expertise and know-how to develop renewable energies, and recognised that South Africa played a central role in the energy sector, it was essential to have more cooperation with South Africa.

The Chairperson asked any member of the Committee to pass a vote of thanks.

Mr Esterhuizen said he had questions to ask the delegation.

The Chaiperson advised Mr Esterhuizen to ask those questions at lunch time since the Norwegian delegation had other meetings to attend to.

Mr Elvestuen invited Members to a dinner function where they could discuss more.

The meeting was adjourned.

 

Share this page: