Eskom’s energy transition lacks energy, says LTM Energy CEO

State-owned electricity company Eskom, South Africa’s largest greenhouse gas emitter, is not adapting quickly enough to change as the world strives to achieve net zero emissions of by 2050 by adopting greener energy solutions, says CEO of local energy services company LTM Energy Dhévan Pillay.

South Africa is the fifteenth largest carbon emitter in the world, with Eskom responsible for around 43% of the country’s total carbon emissions, due to its heavy reliance on coal power to produce electricity. About 1 t of carbon dioxide is emitted for every MWh produced, according to Eskom’s 2021 annual sustainability report.

Encouragingly, the European Union, Germany, France, the United Kingdom and the United States pledged 131 billion rand over the next three to five years at COP26, the Conference of Nations Climate Change Conference 2021 held in November, to help South Africa switch from coal to a cleaner source of energy.

However, as Eskom seeks to use green funds to advance the decommissioning and reallocation of its old power plants, among other initiatives, LTM Energy is demonstrating the significant potential for scalable energy savings in Africa, which at in turn, can help reduce global carbon emissions.

Significantly, the company recently won the prestigious International Energy Project of the Year 2021 award from the Association of Energy Engineers for its Lighting up Africa project, which includes a case study of an 800 kW off-grid solar project. on a farm and the deployment of over 7,000 off-grid homes across South Africa for the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy.

“This award is a testament to LTM Energy’s goals and vision to give Africa clean energy and water to improve quality of life through sustainable innovation,” said Pillay.

Notably, LTM Energy, after ten years of existence, issues part of its shares to attract additional investors in order to extend its successes to the rest of Africa.

While the COP26, carbon tax and energy performance certification drive compliance in the business sector, the main driver for reducing the country’s carbon emissions is not marketing, compliance or the scientific argument, it is the impact on the results of a company, he emphasizes. .

“It is common knowledge that green and clean energy, like solar, is currently cheaper than electricity supplied by Eskom.

“If you divide the country by sector and companies lead by example, achieving zero net emissions by 2050 becomes easier,” he advises, underscoring the commitment of mobile communications company Vodacom to have 100% of its energy coming from renewables by 2025, with other large companies looking to do the same before 2050.

South Africa needs to start with small steps to position itself to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, and there are technologies that can make that goal a reality.

Although solar and wind power supplies are variable, as they depend on whether the sun is shining and when the wind is blowing, this problem can be solved if these power sources are supplemented with alternative base load sources, such as than hydro lines, suggests Pillay.

This technology involves replacing reduction valves in larger water pipes with turbines, which are then driven by gauge pressure to generate base power at about a third of Eskom’s tariff, he says. .

“The net present value is positive from day one, with an ‘obvious’ internal rate of return and, since the turbines are hidden, there is no risk of theft. “

But even though LTM Energy drew Eskom’s attention to the technology, leadership changes within the utility resulted in the idea being scrapped, Pillay notes.

Eskom must move from a monopoly to a decentralized system, like the German energy company E.ON, where micro and mini-grids are in place, says Pillay.

Quadrigeneration systems comprising advanced gas-powered power plants, such as those employed by telecommunications network provider MTN, can play a key role in the resale of electricity to municipal electric utilities.

“Looking at the business cases for some companies, the quad-generation using natural gas will be far superior to the conventional coal-fired electricity provided by Eskom,” says Pillay.

There should be no load shedding when there are innovative ways like demand response strategies and a better mix of renewables to solve the problem, he adds.

Notably, LTM Energy provides green solutions to approximately 40,000 employees of financial services provider FNB and diversified financial services holding company RMB through its enterprise employee deployment program, with platinum producer Anglo American Platinum which recently joined the group. LTM Energy intends to intensify its offer to other company employees with a funded offer.

The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in more people working from home, but with the power cuts they are eager to adopt clean energy storage units combined with solar power.

“As a result, there is a huge demand for renewable energy solutions by the residential sector and load shedding is helping to accelerate this growth. “

In the 13-year-old FNB Fairlands building, LTM Energy achieved more than 35% energy savings and 25% water savings, as well as zero waste to landfill.

The company has also installed more than 2,000 kW of solar photovoltaic (PV) power for the carport.

“If this can be applied to just one building, why can’t it be replicated across the country and in Africa,” asks Pillay, who, as president of the Energy Services Companies Association of Southern Africa (EASA) , would like to share this plan, because the aim of the association is to stimulate the green economy.

LTM Energy is also the implementing partner of the Coke City groundwater project, through which the beverage company Coca-Cola has invested more than R17 million in groundwater collection and treatment projects in the solar power in South Africa since its launch last year.

There are currently nine Coke Ville projects in Limpopo, Gauteng, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, comprising more than 20 drilling systems and, to date, more than 130 million liters have been distributed to communities.

The boreholes were equipped with a solar pump, three-stage filtration for purification, a motor, a control panel and a smart remote energy and water meter.

This year alone, more than 109 million liters have been distributed, with 15,000 households, or 90,000 people, across the country benefiting from the project.

In addition, more than 500 water boats have been distributed to deserving communities, targeting the elderly, families headed by children and people with disabilities.

An engineering company specializing in sustainable development, LTM Energy prides itself on being innovative and introducing breakthrough technologies in order to be able to change the situation.

LTM Energy’s proprietary and improved intelligent utility management software will be “revolutionary”, says Pillay.

It can measure utilities in real time, giving the user the diagnostics needed to react and fix problems like water leaks, promising to save money for residential, commercial and industrial developments.

“We have a lot of business opportunities, but if they don’t match sustainability, we won’t seize them,” says Pillay, noting that companies often turn to diesel power generation when they are tired of it. ‘Eskom, which is three times more. more expensive than electricity supplied by the national utility.

“Their mindset is not focused on operational cost; it is fixed on investment expenditure. However, the life cycle cost should also make sense, given that solar lasts 20 years, while a generator comes with a warranty of up to five years.

It is the lack of education and awareness that hinders the adoption of renewable energy, the reliability of which can be improved when increased by storage, such as lithium-ion batteries or hydrogen fuel cells. , explains Pillay.

“Now is the time to educate individuals and businesses about what is possible, LTM Energy even organizing events aimed at stimulating the green economy, to which its competitors have been invited,” he concludes.

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