Fast tracking South Africa’s smart energy plans

Global expertise in utility transformation and smart technologies will help South Africa realise its smart energy plans.
Published: Mon 23 May 2016

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Last year, Kevin Nassiep, a member of South Africa’s National Advisory Council of Innovation, said that the pace of change in the country’s energy industry is slowing due to the lack of interest or motivation to roll out smart meters, a lack of  innovation that will create more options for customers and extra revenue streams for utilities, low subsidies for renewable energy, and a lack of expertise in global renewable technologies.

Partnerships like the one made between South African consulting company EON Consulting, energy group Iberdrola and global advisors Analysys Mason are set to change this.

Utilities can draw on global expertise

The companies have joined forces to advance the development and implementation of smart energy technologies and services in South Africa.

The partnership, announced at African Utility Week, brings together global best practice and local expertise to support the transformation of the utility sector and help deploy energy solutions that will benefit utility operators and consumers alike and enable South Africa to leapfrog the energy challenges it has faced in the past.

“Achieving transformation in the South African market requires the leveraging of global expertise in utility transformation and the use of smart energy technologies, coupled with strong local knowledge around the particular requirements of the South African market and its consumers.” explains Bertha Dlamini CEO of EON Consulting.

Dlamini adds that the transformation in the energy sector is taking place at a rapid pace, but there aren’t enough skills to tackle the daily challenges utilities are facing. She adds: “We will be able to help close the gap and transfer skills through this new partnership.”

The partnership will leverage Iberdrola’s global leadership in utility operations and technology development. Iberdrola was instrumental in the development and formation of PRIME, an open standard with real interoperability for smart metering and smart grids. The company also recently completed a rollout of more than 7.5 million smart meters in Spain that will reach the total figure of 10.5 million in 2018.

Analysys Mason brings to the partnership global advisory skills and best practice in communications and networks technology, utility applications and smart energy. Analysys Mason has worked with utilities, governments and communications service providers across the globe. At the African Utility Week studio interview, Sacha Meckler from Analysys Mason highlighted the importance of global expertise and the partnership. He told Engerati: “It is important that smart energy solutions are tailored and responsive to both consumers’ and the utilities’ needs. Our partnership enables the selection of the right approaches, solutions and technologies, as we represent best practice from a strategic, operational, and localisation perspective, thereby ensuring that solutions are future ready in a rapidly changing energy sector ”

Critically to ensuring success of such solutions EON Consulting offers specialist local knowledge and understanding of the energy and technology sectors in South Africa. The company has long-standing relationships with numerous municipalities, the public utility Eskom and other technology providers in the country, and has worked with clients in the region to ensure services and solutions meet the needs of energy consumers in South Africa while delivering value for money.  

Smarter solutions for an ailing energy sector

South African municipalities and Eskom are owed billions by its consumers. It is a precarious financial situation that threatens the viability of power distribution and hinders the future growth of the utility and the economy. Inevitably, the net effect for consumers is rolling blackouts – particularly during peak demand times.

Smart meters will help reduce inaccurate billing data; meter bridging and tampering; ghost vending; unmetered connections and illegal connections.

Advice from vendors who have a great deal of global experience in this space can only fast track the country’s smart energy plans.