The future of South Africa’s electricity – will the country be able to afford electricity in the near future and what is being done about minimising electricity consumption?
Electricity price hikes and the constant threat of depleting electricity supply are just some of the worries facing South Africans over the past few years. The seriousness of the energy situation has reached a critical point leaving industry leaders anxious with demand exceeding supply.
Campaigns such as ‘Power Alert’ which encourages consumers to switch off and unplug all non-essential appliances, have been implemented recently with some success but what else can be done to help restore our energy supply? There is currently a significant drive for establishing a range of alternative energy technologies, with solar and wind energy ventures but the skills needed to assess and maintain these systems is seriously lacking in South Africa.
Leading Electrical Engineer Lecturers, Professor Herman Vermaak and Johan Raath from Central University of Technology, Free State (CUT), recognised the need for further education in the renewable energy sector and have created two of the country’s first courses which will equip learners with the skills to assess corporates energy consumption as well as maintain renewable energy technologies. The two courses are based on an international curriculum and adapted to the unique South African market.
Advancements needed soon in SA
Electrical Engineer Lecturer at CUT, Johan Raath, says, “Professor Herman Vermaak and I identified the need for technical knowledge in the maintenance and advisory roles of the renewable energy sector and began researching the validity of introducing such courses in 2011. Although there are relevant courses offered internationally, South Africa is lagging behind in this regard. It is worrying to assess the state of the country’s energy situation by 2030 if there are no real advancements in the maintenance and assessment of renewable energy technologies today.”
The one-year Higher Certificate in Renewable Energy Technologies course will enable learners to conduct regular maintenance on renewable energy technologies. The three year Diploma in Sustainable Energy will create energy advisors/auditors with the necessary skills to assist large scale electricity consumers to identify the internal profiles of electricity consumption by every cost centre.
They will also advise the consumer on improving medium-term efficiency and on the availability and technology of electricity sourced from renewable energy resources.
All these new courses are an outcome of the curriculum development at CUT, which is unique in the South African higher education system and beyond. It is derived by the Strategic Transformation of Education Programmes and Structures process (STEPS), an academic transformation project which is intended to develop brand-new, relevant, responsive, demand-driven curricula for CUT students. The courses are currently undergoing an approval process by Department of Higher Education and Training.