Date and time of event: 12th March 2016, 11:00 – 14:00
Venue: Graduate Centre L2-70
The power discussion was an event aimed at inspiring interactive conversation between students and industry experts on matters concerning South Africa’s Power consumption, and sustainable energy solutions. Pre-rehearsed questions were asked to our panel of experts.
Rethabile Melamu, who’s academic and industry expertise in Green Energy, and Chemical Engineering, offered in depth insight on various topics raised relating to sustainability and development.
Thabo Moyo, who’s a Mechanical Engineer gave some tips for innovation, and Surprise Manamela, a student entrepreneur shared his input and added a well balanced mix conducive for heated discussions on Sustainability, Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
The event hosted 70 people for an audience, with a facilitator.
On campus societies; Enactus UP, Tuks Rag, and EWB-UP gave presentations on their community engagement initiatives in line with innovative solutions for Energy supply to communities.
Main Topics Discussed:
With power, and electricity consumption still a lingering topic in South Africa’s developing economy, our questions and topics for discussion were centred around the economic implications of poor power supply, such as the effect it had on businesses, economic performance and ultimately, the GDP; the argument of adaptation vs creativity was one that sparked a heated debate, whether we should adapt to how things are, or have a sense of entitlement to better services and take it in our own hands to create means to alleviate the challenges faced due to poor power supply.
Other topics included innovation and entrepreneurship, and how they are linked in a growing economy; The ICT sector, being the largest consumer of electricity, and how we can control this in a technologically advancing society; and lastly to appetize conversation after the event, the speculation of nuclear power in south Africa was discussed in closing.
11:30 - 12:00: Society Presentations
12:00 - 13:30: Power Discussion
13:30 - 14:00: Refreshments and Networking
Power discussion Questions Asked to our Panellists and Audience:
Greetings, my name is Mubanga Kapopo and I’m the treasurer for EWB-UP. Aside from community empowerment, one of the key constraints of any good and necessary initiative is sustainability, innovation and of course entrepreneurship.
It gives me great pleasure to present to you our Panel of experts today, who will offer some professional, well experienced, practical insight on the relevance of these concepts with regard to the future of our country.
With no further a dew, please give a warm welcome to our panellists.
If you could kindly just introduce yourselves, giving us a brief of who you are, what you so, and from a personal point of view: see ice breaker
Could you physically survive in a hypothetical economy independent of power and why?
Question 1: Challenges due to Power Struggle
With over 100 days of load shedding experienced last year, Power and Energy consumption as well as distribution are keys issues concerned with the integrity of the economy.
What are some challenges you and your organization have faced in the past year as a result (lack of productivity, or any inconveniences that might have led to major stagnation by your organization) and how did you manage to cure or prevent these challenges?
Question 2: Adaptation vs Creation
It has been established that government indeed has a plan that’s being implemented to fix this issue. The plan emphasizes the addition of new higher capacity generators through projects such as Medupi, Kusile, and Ingula power stations. Their capacity is largely helped by the fact that there has been a notable decline in power consumption since 2007, despite evident strains on the grid. This implies that industries responsible for major consumptions have been adapting to the power supply
instability and are almost regressing in their demand, parallel to the availability of power.
What are your thoughts on this, should businesses and companies simply adapt to conditions of insufficient power? Or should there be a drive in innovation? Where does the priority lie, if being innovative becomes too costly? Do businesses then step back and cater for what best suits the industry under present conditions, or despite the costs, should industries be more obliged to make investments for the future of the country?
Question 3 Innovation and Entrepreneurship
According to deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa, Affordability should be a prerequisite for investments in energy. SA has mixed alternative energy sources of solar, wind, gas, hydropower and very soon, nuclear. However, these alternative methods are costly and poor communities suffer, which in turn drags the economy. According to UCT professor and Deputy President Advisor panel member on energy. . SA’s electricity tariffs have surged by 300% since 2007, whilst there has been an increase in the use of gas. Gas is not too costly, and provides significant opportunity for small localized manufacturing and entrepreneurship supporting gas reticulation in local communities.
What initiatives are being implemented or planning on being implemented by your organization that support innovation, job creation, entrepreneurship or simply just to save energy? If none are present, do you think this is a viable niche to tackle by large corporations in expending resources to create sustainable solutions? What challenges would be most prominent when it comes to this?
Question 4: ICT sector
The ICT sector was known to consume around 109GW of power in 2013, which is about 6% of the world’s total electricity consumption. Despite the common term 'Africa Rising' and our quest to be more like our tech advanced western counterparts, we are humbled by the fact that we live on a power constrained continent.
Between PC's and ICT devices, about 75GW of electricity is consumed a year. 69GW is consumed just for their infrastructure and 37.1 GW for telecommunication, operating systems and data centres. This surmounts to about 12 New York cities on a global scale.
The ICT sector is necessary for our own human development. By 2017, it is expected that more than 5bil GB of data will pass through the global communications network. This is equivalent to every person tweeting nonstop for 100 years.
Such a dramatic explosion in tariffs requires ever increasing energy resources at network level, meaning that the ICT sector needs to control operational expenditure allocated for energy
consumption, from this perspective, what are your opinions, and what would be the most effective way in doing this?
Would investing in energy-efficiency in devices be a solution? Should government regulate devices entering our market that put a strain on our power consumptions? Or is this a problem we humans have created and it is our responsibility to simply look for alternative energy methods to supply power to these high-end demanding devices we export?
President Jacob Zuma has signed a deal with Russian president Vladimir Putin on a Nuclear Energy Program said to cost about R650billion. Providing 9,6GW of nuclear power generating capacity. Numerous issues arise due to this, the obvious one being affordability, according to ANC Secretary, affordability is out of reach when it comes to this, despite a reduction in overall costs compared to running coal power stations. This is a move benefiting future generations. Concerns of transparency and legal issues also arise, because the deal is said to bind South Africa financially and holds us liable for any accidents.
In light of what we've been discussing, what are your thoughts on this? Is nuclear energy viable despite SA's concerns over affordability and transparency? (Seeing as most of the details with regards to the deal are being held back by government)
Open floor for questions and comments.
Stickers for marketing: R100.00
Gifts for panellists: R209.94
Total Cost for Event: R1687.09