Half full? Half empty? Or just not full?

As Executive Director of the Presidential Climate Commission, Dr Crispian Olver is at the very centre of South Africa’s swirling energy policy debate. The commission’s job isn’t just to plan a way forward for the country, but to find the money to do it. In this first 2023 edition of Podcasts from the Edge he tells Peter Bruce that, despite setbacks and the growing power of the fossil fuel obsessed minerals and energy minister Gwede Mantashe, plans raised to wean South Africa off coal and presented to the COP27 climate conference in Egypt last November are still in place. The $8.5bn pledged by the EU, the US and the UK is, he says, “secure” despite the resignation of Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter, who helped raise the money in the first place. Nonetheless, he concedes, we are “in a very real and tangible crisis and we have manifestly failed to make sure that we have the generating capacity” we need. “You can’t sugar-coat the bald facts,” says Olver. De Ruyter, he says, did a lot of good but “clearly didn’t have his hands on the machinery at Eskom”. As for the ANC “decision” recently to pass control of Eskom to the department of minerals and energy, the absence of management skills there would make it a “catastrophic move” if it were to happen. “I think there needs to be a second take,” he suggests. For Olver, two key reforms are irreversible. First the decision to carve a separate transmission company out of Eskom is happening (however slowly). Second, there are no limits anymore on how much power private sector companies can now generate. It may all take a while to gel but it can’t be stopped.
16 Jan English South Africa News Commentary · Politics

Other recent episodes

Curb your enthusiasm folks… 2029’s the year; not 2024

Even if the ANC falls below 50% of the vote in the next general election in 2024 it’ll be able to form “a relatively easy” coalition with a small and perhaps like-minded party in Parliament. Cyril Ramaphosa will shake off the Phala-Phala game farm cash heist problem that stalks him…
29 Nov 2022 27 min

Cyril's big call

Elections analyst Michael Atkins walks Peter Bruce through the bewildering maze of a rapidly approaching Constitutional crisis over our electoral system. The government has ignored advice from its own Ministerial Advisory Committee and is sending a Bill to the president to sign allowing independent candidates to stand for elections against…
31 Oct 2022 33 min

Big Batteries? Here’s a way to do it our way...

s South Africa's efforts to plug the gaps in our electricity supply grind slowly forward there's a clear hole emerging in the plans for new, renewable energy generation. The hole is the absence of storage, of batteries, that are being rapidly deployed now around the word at a fast pace…
24 Oct 2022 31 min

A Boer made a plan and that’s a pebble bed nuclear reactor orbiting above us

South Africa had spent around R10bn developing the Pebble Bed Modular Reactor before abandoning the nuclear project when Jacob Zuma became President. He had a much bigger nuclear ambition cooked up with Russia’s Vladimir Putin. Now, however, Andre Pienaar, a pioneering Afrikaner venture capitalist who lives his life between Washington…
17 Oct 2022 43 min