Chair, as the population in South Africa rapidly increases, so does the need to meet the rising energy demand in economical, social, responsible, renewable and sustainable ways.
The reliance on clean and renewable energy sources could save the country from high carbon volumes and environmental hazards. Coal is at present the greatest and most dominant source of energy, producing 70% of energy in South Africa. The renewable energy sources constitute approximately 8% of energy, which means there is a massive margin for expansion in this area of energy generation, and still a long way to go in ensuring more energy is produced from renewable energy sources.
In his state of the nation address, President Zuma mentioned a new nuclear power station that would contribute 9 000 megawatts of energy. But energy choices made today will fundamentally affect the country's ability to combat climate change and create clean and safe energy for all South Africans.
In addition, one must also take cognisance of the recent statement by the National Union of Mineworkers, NUM, who warned that they do not support any calls to employ nuclear energy as part of the solution for sustainable energy. South Africa's stumbling economy cannot take another knock from unions who are seemingly able to dictate policy to government.
With increasing concern over whether consumers will be able to afford Eskom's ever-rising tariffs, and with only 60% of distributed electricity creating revenue - the rest being lost through illegal connections - Eskom's debt rose by 11% to R16,6 billion. Added to this, is the steadily declining sales trend as more users begin to diversify their energy mix.
Eskom had 14 gas turbines built in the Western Cape as an emergency backup and said that not more than one would be used at a time as this is the most expensive method of energy supply, costing approximately R2,70/kWh compared to an average cost of 59c/kWh. Yet, all 14 are currently in use, contributing to Eskom's huge loss of income.
Eskom appears to be in way over its head. Government will have to intervene and take drastic and immediate action. The warning signs are already there. The Reserve Bank last week revised our growth forecast down to 1,7%, mostly because of the prevailing uncertainty in the energy sector. Having said all that, the IFP supports this Vote. I thank you. [Applause.]