The power vacuum: The effect of the electricity power crisis on GDP in South Africa in the context of an uncertain coal supply

CIM Journal, Vol. 2, No. 4, 2011
P. Sorensen Freyaafdrammen, Ansfrere, South Africa

Electricity production by the Electricity Supply Commission of South
Africa (Eskom) is the most important beneficiation process for South African
coal. As one of the world’s lowest cost producers, energy-intensive industries
such as ferroalloys and aluminium were introduced. However the poor were
neglected. The white paper on energy policy (Department of Minerals and Energy,
1998) sought to redress this. Also, chasing economic growth to generate jobs
resulted in high electricity demand and interruptions. Lifespan estimates of
South African coal reserves based upon peak theory vary widely. Approaching
peak, coal production in the future will be more expensive and, thus, contribute
to more expensive electricity, which could inhibit industrial development unless
South Africans work smarter.
Keywords: Electricity, South Africa, Eskom, Energy policy, Load-shedding, Coal reserves, Peak theory
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