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Renewables alone will not solve energy crisis – Numsa

NUMSA general secretary Irvin Jim

NUMSA general secretary Irvin Jim

25th May 2023

By: Darren Parker

Creamer Media Contributing Editor Online

     

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The belief that renewable energy is the sole answer to South Africa’s energy crisis is irrational, National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) general secretary Irvin Jim has said.

“You can’t run a factory by wind or sun. What happens when there is no wind and the sun is behind a cloud? It is like lying to children by telling them you can do a braai with a torch,” he quipped to delegates attending the Metal Industries Collective Bargaining Summit in Johannesburg on May 25.

“We agree that we must move away from fossil fuels, but we must move at a pace, time and cost that the country can afford,” Jim stressed, stating that emphasis should be placed on proper maintenance of the existing coal-powered fleet rather than investing in renewables.

“I want to submit that part of that energy mix must be nuclear,” he said.

Speaking on the second day of the event, which was hosted by Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa (Seifsa), Jim said that the current rolling blackouts were “sabotaging” the economy and threatening the job security of workers.

“These rolling blackouts, Numsa is very clear, must end with immediate effect by deploying capable leadership in generation in Eskom that can deliver quality maintenance of power stations,” he emphasised.

He called on government to move swiftly and decisively and reconnect all the coal-fired electricity generation units that were “wrongly and clumsily disconnected by previous Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter and those who supported him”.

“We do not want to be told stories about climate change goals as we remain committed to a proper just transition that must not liquidate the South African economy. Anyone who is undermining the urgency of our situation, which has gone beyond a national crisis, is literally playing with fire. As the situation outside here is not different to a tinderbox,” he said.

He said that, while Numsa understood and appreciated Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa’s grasp of the problem, there was no replacement for appointing an Eskom CEO who is also an engineer. ​

Jim petitioned for the reappointment of previous Eskom CEO Jacob Maroga.

“The decisive measures that were taken by the two previous CEOs who stopped loadshedding, must be brought back to Eskom with immediate effect. Concrete measures to stop loadshedding must be taken now and we must leave no stone unturned to deal with the issue,” he said.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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