L'Afrique du Sud a attiré depuis des années des industries gourmandes en énergie, en leur proposant l'électricité la moins chère du monde (prix 36% plus bas qu'au Canada, le 2nd moins cher). Mais la compagnie étatisée EsKom, qui assure 95% de la production d'électricité du pays, n'arrive plus à satisfaire la demande. Elle n'a pas anticipé la croissance du PIB de 4,9% en 2005. Le plan d'accroissement de capacité de 42 000 Mégawatts d'ici 2020 risque d'arriver trop tard.
Toutes les industries minières sont touchées, en particulier le charbon et le platine. En commençant par BHP Biliton, premier groupe minier mondial, qui fournit du charbon pour alimenter les centrales électriques du pays (89% de l'électricité des 24 centrales d'Eskom provient du charbon).
Les investissements du groupe Alcan Inc (aluminium) sont aussi menacés.
Les coupures affectent également les raffineries, le textile, l'agriculture et des millions de foyers. Ceux qui le peuvent s'équipent de groupes électrogènes.
EDF est sollicité pour la relance du nucléaire.
Tous les détails sont ici (source : Bloomberg) :
Sachant que ce pays est un des pionniers pour le CTL (compagnie SASOL), il préfigure peut être ce que donnera le retour au charbon dans d'autres contrées.BHP Billiton May Halt South African Expansion Amid Power Cuts
March 30 (Bloomberg) -- BHP Billiton, the world's biggest miner, may delay expansion in South Africa because the country is running out of cheap and abundant electricity.
Power cuts this year in Johannesburg and Cape Town, the country's largest cities, shut oil refineries, halted textile mills and plunged millions of homes into darkness. Investments by Alcan Inc. and OAO Sual Group also may be under threat.
``We got caught out,'' said Alec Erwin, minister of public enterprises, at a press conference in Cape Town this month. Demand outstripped supply two years ahead of estimates.
State-owned Eskom Holdings Ltd., which supplies 95 percent of South Africa's power, hasn't kept pace with economic growth, which accelerated to a 21-year high of 4.9 percent in 2005. Demand climbed as industries such as platinum mining expanded and power was rolled out to areas populated by the black majority, who were deprived of basic services under apartheid.
South Africa's low power costs -- the least expensive in the world -- have helped attract industry. Electricity is less than 4 cents a kilowatt hour, 36 percent less than in the next-cheapest market, Canada, said Rob Lines, Eskom's acting general manager of generation, in a telephone interview from Johannesburg.
``With the country's power grid under pressure, it wouldn't really be right for us to push them to give us more power to go ahead with expansion,'' Bronwyn Wilkinson, a spokeswoman for Melbourne-based BHP, said from Johannesburg.
Companies in the Western Cape, where Cape Town lies, have lost more than 1 billion rand ($159 million) because of the blackouts, according to the Johannesburg-based South African Chamber of Business. The power cuts may hamper plans to boost the country's annual economic growth to 6 percent and reduce the 27 percent unemployment rate, said Dawie Roodt, an economist at the Pretoria-based Efficient Group consultancy.
By 2009, Eskom plans to restart three plants that were mothballed during a period of overcapacity. It plans to borrow equipment from Paris-based Electricite de France SA to restore its nuclear plant near Cape Town to full production by mid-July.
Eskom has a total of 24 plants, and generates about 89 percent of its power by burning the low-cost coal mined by BHP, London-based Anglo American Plc and Switzerland's Xstrata Plc.
To help cope with the shortage, the company will buy mobile generators and electricity from private plants, and will distribute power-saving devices such as blankets to cover geysers and low-wattage light bulbs. Nonetheless, more power cuts are scheduled for the Western Cape.
Extra Power Needed
``It's a problem that needs attention and has to be fixed,'' said Fani Zulu, Eskom's spokesman, by telephone from Johannesburg. ``We are fast-tracking projects.''
Eskom plans to double its 42,000 megawatts of capacity, at a cost of 84 billion rand, by 2020. The increase may come too late for some companies.
BHP needs an extra 675 megawatts to expand a Mozal smelter in Mozambique and the Hillside plant in South Africa's KwaZulu Natal province. The company, which produces almost 5 percent of global aluminum supply from the plants, may put the plans on hold until it's assured of a 30-year supply, Wilkinson said.
Alcan, the world's second-largest aluminum producer, needs a 1,240-megawatt supply to build a $2.7 billion smelter at the Coega port, spokeswoman Anik Michaud said in an interview from the company's base in Montreal.
Moscow-based Sual, Russia's second-biggest aluminum producer, dropped plans for a South African smelter, Johannesburg's Business Times said March 12, citing Chief Executive Officer Brian Gilbertson. Gilbertson didn't return telephone calls seeking comment.
Keeping Beds Warm
``If we have a cold winter or if any of the generating facilities aren't available, we won't have enough power,'' Trevor Gaunt, professor of electrical engineering at the University of Cape Town, said in a telephone interview. ``There is a national problem.''
Smaller businesses also are paying a price. Cape Town's Mount Nelson Hotel says it may have to spend 4 million rand on generators to keep visitors comfortable.
``The last thing I need is cold and unhappy guests,'' Paul Seewer, managing director of the Mount Nelson, part of Bermuda- based Sea Containers Ltd.'s Orient-Express Hotels, said in a telephone interview. The hotel's penthouse suite costs about $4,700 a night.
Power cuts in February caused 5,800 liters of milk to sour and damaged the health of calves at a farm near Franschoek, northeast of Cape Town, said Bartie Volschenk, farm manager for the closely held Rhodes Food Group. He bought a generator for 170,000 rand to ensure he can milk 400 cows three times a day.
``A calf is like a baby,'' Volschenk said in a telephone interview from the farm. ``You can't give a calf cold milk if it's used to hot milk. It's a big problem.''
The Western Cape accounts for a quarter of South Africa's 4 billion rand-a-year dairy industry.
South Africa's neighbors also have been affected. Namibia is asking mining companies including London-based Anglo American Plc to cut electricity consumption after Eskom said it will reduce supplies that amount to about half its power. Supply to Zimbabwe has been interrupted.
``My concern is for the effect this is having on the economic activity of the entire region,'' said Sean Summers, chief executive officer of Cape Town-based Pick'n Pay Stores Ltd., South Africa's largest grocery chain, in an interview.
``The leadership of the country needs to stop glossing over the key issues, stop with the glib excuses, and those responsible need to stand up and be counted,'' he said.
To contact the reporters on this story:
Mike Cohen in Cape Town at email@example.com
Antony Sguazzin in Johannesburg firstname.lastname@example.org
Last Updated: March 30, 2006 01:20 EST