South Africa: Warmism Creates Blackouts

Vijay Jayaraj – June 6, 2022

South Africa — supposedly one of Africa’s advanced economies — is reeling under severe power shortages and daily rolling blackouts — some for as long as eight hours.

In May, most households, commercial buildings, and industries experienced hours of blackouts. The South African state-run power utility ESKOM supplied no power between 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. due to a “loss of generation capacity.”

Last month, social unrest was reported in parts of the country after frustrated citizens took to the streets to protest power failures, cable theft, and years of inefficiency at Eskom.

The utility has been notorious for corruption, poor maintenance, and failure to increase generation capacity.

Reports indicate that “South Africa is poised for 101 days of power outages this year.” In 2021, only 65 days had power outages. But the current situation is only set to get worse, thanks to a woke climate agenda that Eskom and the South African government have embraced.

According to the 2019 Integrated Resource Plan, 24,100 megawatts of conventional thermal power sources (mainly coal) will be decommissioned by 2050 and be replaced with renewable technology.

As a part of the plan to reduce reliance on conventional energy sources, South Africa is likely to accept money from a climate fund offered by a consortium of countries. Bloomberg reported, “The arrangement (climate fund) would enable Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. to access the $8.5 billion pledged by the U.S., U.K., Germany, France and the European Union… The company wants to use the money to fund the closing of some coal-fired power plants and the construction of renewable-energy facilities to replace them.”

Eskom is also poised to receive $2.8-billion from the African Development Bank, some of which would be used to help the utility transition to a “low-carbon” system over the next five years — a move that would make Eskom even more inefficient. The bank has stopped funding fossil fuel projects in Africa and is engaged in decreasing the continent’s conventional energy capacity.

This transition makes no sense whatsoever. In 2021, 84% of all electricity produced in South Africa came from coal. Only five percent was produced by wind and solar, and increasing their share will only exacerbate South Africa’s power shortages.

This is because both wind and solar provide only intermittent power, with no non-conventional backup solution available at a commercial scale. Globally, renewable intensive power networks rely on backup support from conventional energy sources like coal, gas, and nuclear.

In South Africa’s case, the conventional coal infrastructure is already in a dismal state, suffering from outdated facilities and lack of investment. If funds are further diverted towards renewable infrastructure, the prospect for the entire power network is bleak indeed.

It takes decades of development to make a power sector efficient and effective. South Africa is illustrating that an electricity system can be destroyed more quickly.

Access to electricity in rural South Africa was at an all-time high of 82 percent in 2014. By 2020, the inefficiency of Eskom coupled with its woke climate agenda had pushed the rural electrification rate down to 75 percent. The overall electrification rate (urban and rural) has plateaued since 2014, showing no marked improvement.

Eskom’s promise to reduce coal-fired generation over the next 30 years threatens to drive South Africa’s 62 million people further into an abyss of rolling blackouts and attendant economic damage.

Vijay Jayaraj is a Research Associate at the CO2 Coalition, Arlington, Va., and holds a Masters degree in environmental sciences from the University of East Anglia, England. He resides in Bengaluru, India.

First published here at American Thinker on June 6, 2022.

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Tom Halla
June 6, 2022 2:05 pm

Greens simply do.not care.

Reply to  Tom Halla
June 6, 2022 2:53 pm

No, they care to the point of obsession.

But like all obsessions, it’s an irrational fixation on some delusion that has taken root in a dysfunctional mind.

Greens should be pitied and cared about, but let’s face it – the R.O.I. on remedial treatments for them just doesn’t stack up.

Dave Fair
Reply to  Tom Halla
June 6, 2022 3:14 pm

Kleptocracies, massive corruption at all levels and Leftist green ideologies are synergistic: Things rapidly go to shit and it is impossible to fix them without a coup or violent revolution. I wonder if Apartheid is remembered nostalgically by many South Africans.

Reply to  Tom Halla
June 6, 2022 3:34 pm

Whilst I agree with you, the situation in SA is totally one of political corruption. That country’s leaders do not care about looking after their infrastructure, it is about themselves and their access other people’s money.

Reply to  Streetcred
June 6, 2022 3:42 pm

Which is generally what happens whenever socialist/communists take over.

Reply to  Tom Halla
June 6, 2022 10:08 pm

Greens are the ultimate misanthropes.

June 6, 2022 2:06 pm

The ANC is busy with other priorities like corruption and redistribution of declining resources.

Captain climate
June 6, 2022 2:09 pm

South Africa is being destroyed by corrupt race politics on one hand and on woke nonsense on the other. You’d think rolling blackouts would make people wake up.

Tim Gorman
Reply to  Captain climate
June 6, 2022 2:16 pm

It’s not just S. Africa. The US is right in there as well. Equity is nothing but corrupt race politics! It’s a race to the bottom – then equity will be same for everyone!

jeffery p
Reply to  Tim Gorman
June 6, 2022 2:57 pm

Progressives don’t know how to create anything or improve people’s lives. They can only destroy. Instead of helping those with less, they bring down those with more. Eventually, there will be rough equality among the peons because everyone will be equally disadvantaged.

Unless you can break into the elite, of course. They don’t have to suffer by the same rules and laws.

Reply to  jeffery p
June 6, 2022 3:46 pm

Progressives don’t believe that wealth is created. They are convinced it just exists, which is why it’s fair for government to take from those who they believe have too much and give it to people who vote for them.

Old Man Winter
Reply to  Tim Gorman
June 6, 2022 3:00 pm
another ian
Reply to  Old Man Winter
June 6, 2022 3:27 pm
Old Man Winter
Reply to  another ian
June 6, 2022 4:44 pm

GW caused/causes:

1) clown fish to get lost- one ended up in the White House!

2) Nessie’s death. 🙁

3) Minneapolis I-35 bridge collapse- 1/2″ vs 1″ gusset plates will do that.

4) tree growth slowed, tree growth faster, trees grow too fast
trees less colorful, trees more colorful
trees in trouble, trees lush- Trees are more proof of GW!

Alastair gray
Reply to  Old Man Winter
June 6, 2022 6:53 pm

Nessie is not dead. She was abducted by aliens.

Rod Evans
Reply to  Alastair gray
June 6, 2022 11:54 pm

Nah, the seekers of the old dragon are looking in the wrong place. She has been hiding in full view leading the Scottish political scene for the past eight years.

Reply to  Tim Gorman
June 6, 2022 3:42 pm

Everyone except the elites who run the system.

jeffery p
Reply to  Captain climate
June 6, 2022 2:55 pm

The US, is (or was) one of the least racist countries and is also being destroyed by the same forces. Wokism is racist, btw.

June 6, 2022 2:45 pm

“…fund the closing of some coal-fired power plants and the construction of renewable-energy facilities to replace them.” Says it all. SA will be added to the crash test dummies list of renewable grid power.

jeffery p
June 6, 2022 2:52 pm

Slight correction: Warmism Creates More Blackouts in South Africa. The problems already existed, warmism just made them worse.

Ron Long
June 6, 2022 3:01 pm

Probably shouldn’t use the term “Blackouts” for south Africa, maybe “Greenouts”?

Reply to  Ron Long
June 6, 2022 5:13 pm

I didn’t know that nights were green in SA. Another effect of CO2?

Reply to  Ron Long
June 6, 2022 6:25 pm

Blackouts of color is the correct term please

June 6, 2022 3:12 pm

Two things come to mind.
The president of the country, with the ANC called for the slaughter of white people in S.A., especially the farmers.
This is *exactly* the policy followed in Zimbabwe which caused
1) hyperinflation destroying the economy.
2) famine, exactly what happens when you kill all your farmers and shut down the farms.
Previously Zimbabwe, then called Rhodesia had been known as the breadbasket of Africa.

This could not happen to a more deserving bunch.

Alastair gray
Reply to  TonyL
June 6, 2022 6:57 pm

Both equally ripe for Chinese neo-colonialism and enslavement of the masses of colour

Reply to  TonyL
June 7, 2022 9:08 am

I was in Zimbabwe during the period when Mugagbe (spelled that way on purpose) took farms away from white farmers. It was very bad but hyperinflation was already well underway before that happened.

My wife and I, fearing for our lives, took the Range Rovers and left for Botswana where everything was much better – the difference owing to Botswana being a democracy where the free market still worked.

Rud Istvan
June 6, 2022 3:14 pm

This is ‘funny’ at many levels.
ESKOM blackouts are caused by incompetent maintenance and corruption. Both are fixable.
More Future ESKOM blackouts will be caused by renewables, since their backup systems are already causing blackouts. The ruinables solution just makes things worse, but does suck up foreign aid to fuel more corruption.

Dave Fair
Reply to  Rud Istvan
June 6, 2022 3:24 pm

At least the money siphoned off by corrupt politicians, bureaucrats, crony capitalists & etc. won’t be available for installing more ruinables.

Reply to  Rud Istvan
June 7, 2022 3:12 am

But the renewables chimera is promoted and supported by the white liberals in South Africa. They have enthusiastically embraced wokeism to the extent that they appear to be deliberate parodies of their Californian brethren.

Andy Pattullo
June 6, 2022 3:28 pm

Breathtaking stupidity and incompetence shared across a wide range of decision-makers. If no-one responsible takes charge, we all will eventually get a low carbon economy as civilization collapses, the last twigs and branches are burned for heat and light, every scrap of available protein is consumed and the humans have passed into obscurity after a brief period of global conflict over the few remaining usable resources. Nature will just see it as another phase.

Reply to  Andy Pattullo
June 6, 2022 5:21 pm

I don’t see much sign of “global conflict over the few remaining usable resources”, I see the western democracies actively pulling out of usable resources so that communist China (actually, f*sc*st) can have them all. The human world has been through dark ages before, it now looks like it is plunging headlong into another. Like the earlier ones, it could last for several centuries. What a horrendous legacy we are leaving for many generations of our descendants.

Alastair gray
Reply to  Mike Jonas
June 6, 2022 7:03 pm

Bound hand and foot by our elitist masters for sacrifice on the green altar. When we destroy this technological society we can never build another because all the easy to get energy has been used up

Alastair gray
Reply to  Andy Pattullo
June 6, 2022 6:58 pm

I suppose lemmings have an elite too who cheerlead from the rear

June 6, 2022 3:32 pm

Above all else, the South African ANC government and its politicised bureaucracy is ‘fully’ corrupt and captured by ‘green’ organisations. State capture by individuals and organisations is endemic in that country.

Michael in Dublin
June 6, 2022 5:34 pm

A biography of H.J. van der Bijl” by Alice Jacobs (1948) is an incredible story of a gifted man who set up the Electricity Supply Commission in South Africa in 1923. Sadly there is no one of his stature in Eskom today. The book is available, free, online, and well worth reading. H J van der Bijl would have rejected climate alarmism had he been alive today and come up with innovative ways of how to adapt to weather conditions and climate changes.

Michael in Dublin
Reply to  Michael in Dublin
June 8, 2022 3:19 am

While the current CEO of Eskom, André de Ruyter, is determined to fix the electricity utility and has both business and law qualifications, he does not have the technical insights and expertise of someone like H J van der Bijl. Nevertheless he is a sensible and tough man.

I was pleased to read of him taking a stand for gas. At a conference yesterday he stated that gas-fired power can ensure system stability as the country shifts to cleaner energy solutions.

We need dispatchable power to make up for the variability we inevitably see from renewable energy. Renewable energy only works when the wind blows or the sun shines.

I wish Irish politicians would take note of people like this and abandon the folly of wanting to dump all fossil fuels – without a proper cost benefit analysis which de Ruyter has evidently done.

Michael in Dublin
Reply to  Michael in Dublin
June 8, 2022 3:41 am

An interesting article by a South African journalist, John Kane-Bermanan shows how some intelligent people are trying to influence the SA government on climate issues.

He references a new paper: “Full Cost of Electricity (FCOE) and Energy Returns (eROI)” by Lars Schernikau, William Hayden-Smith, and Rosemary Falcon.

Renewables are more costly and risky the deeper you dig” on the website of Politicsweb.

I hope that Wattupwiththat will take a close look at this paper as I do not have the expertise to assess it.

Mike Dubrasich
June 6, 2022 6:22 pm

People, or similar, have been living in caves in SA for over a million years. They’re used to it. Forward to the past!

June 6, 2022 6:26 pm

Griff better get busy with his solar LED light freebies … that will solve it 🙂

June 6, 2022 8:39 pm

One needs to experience the loss of a one hour rolling blackout every day for 8 days straight. I saw this as an IT tech in the 1999 California rolling blackouts, caused of course by green policies blocking timely natural gas generator installation.

Even a second-long outage, and a data center is done for the day. Send everyone home, we’ll try again tomorrow, only to repeat the same exact disaster for a week +1.

My grandfather who worked in a gravel yard said the same thing about rock crushers, take them apart to clear them out, try again tomorrow. My dad was a printer, same thing there too with presses.

Reply to  Lil-Mike
June 7, 2022 4:19 pm

Lose power to an electrically fired aluminium smelter…. when the aluminium cools in the melting pots that are arc heated by electrical probes, that’s your operation FINISHED…. as in GONE. Once that aluminium cools in the pots, it’s stuck solid and there is no going back, except to replace a multimillion Rand/$/£ investment.

June 6, 2022 10:02 pm

Politicians introduced the corruption and mismanagement causing the destruction of generating power and prevented building new capacity until too late. By now, Eskom is in a deep hole because the only international funding available for new generating capacity is for the green stuff. So it’s a hole that’s just getting deeper. But the root cause is the self enriching greed of politicians. Oh, and green activists are blocking all exploration of domestic fuel resources.

Rod Evans
June 6, 2022 11:48 pm

SA is yet another candidate for China’s Belt and Road treatment. They are destroying their ability to rule themselves, by abandoning the only energy resource they can rely on i.e. coal. The end result of their political folly will be anarchy across the whole country. Starting in the towns and cities, then marauding gangs sacking the country looking for food and fuel.
China will step in.
If SA could not stomach Western Colonial authority, they are in for a new colonial power that has slightly less concern about local sensitivities.
On the plus side, the coal fired power stations will be back up and running.

Reply to  Rod Evans
June 8, 2022 4:07 am

So, are you saying that as they labor away as slaves for the Chinese, at least they will have good lighting?

June 7, 2022 12:46 am
June 7, 2022 12:54 am

The weather doomsters really are getting desperate-
Why the collapse of an Atlantic ocean current could mean La Niña becomes the norm | Matthew England, Andréa S. Taschetto and Bryam Orihuela-Pinto for the Conversation | The Guardian
It was always their looney prescriptions that would bring them undone.

June 7, 2022 1:48 am

Careful Treasurer as the ACCC might actually grow some cohones and remember all about their job policing dumping and point the finger at your pet unreliables that got you into this disaster in the first place-
Treasurer reaches out to ACCC over energy prices (
I’ll look forward to the day but I won’t hold my breath for an epiphany by these lickspittle overstuffed suits and their convenient Admiral Nelson’s telescope.

June 7, 2022 4:08 am
June 7, 2022 7:37 am

It’s the same trick, create, enough misery that people will accept anything to have it end. Of course the only benefit is to the hip pockets of the ones causing the misery.

To be fair it looks like in S. Africa the misery is from natural causes.

June 7, 2022 1:56 pm

Don’t forget the blame game. That’s big in African leadership.

Michael in Dublin
June 8, 2022 5:26 am

Here is a breakdown of the year 2021 when South Africans had load shedding 13% of the time:

This may be scandalous but South Africa did not have any written black languages, books or schools merely two centuries ago but we had written languages over 2 millennia ago and secondary schools in Europe over ten centuries ago but our politicians are bungling as much on climate matters and energy supply as those in South Africa.

June 8, 2022 1:24 pm

Funny thing is people who can afford it including myself are installing hybrid solar PV systems with battery lifepo backup battery (considered much safer for fire risk than Li-ion) Approx 10k usd installation is enough to meet 80% electricity consumption for average household (no govt subsidies) and payback time in elec saving is only about 7 years considering elec price increases are 15% annually. This is assuming energy efficient appliances, led lights etc and schedule most consumption during daylight hours. So green tech can work when there is a necessity and coupled with freedom from blackouts its become a no brainer

Michael in Dublin
Reply to  Etienne
June 9, 2022 8:10 am


If it were so simple why have many in South Africa not gone down this route?
If the cost is $10 000 then in South African currency that would be R154 000. While Statista has the average monthy salary at R24 000 the real unemployment is close to 50% so this would be way beyond the reach of most people.

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