Young Professionals Forum holds big energy debate at UP

Posted on October 02, 2018

The Consulting Engineers of South Africa’s Young Professionals Forum held its first annual “Big Energy Debate” recently, in partnership with the University of Pretoria’s Faculty of Engineering, Built Environment and Information Technology (EBIT).

According to the Forum, the organisation aims to be “an open, unbiased medium through which young professionals in the South African built environment and engineering industry may freely air their views, opinions and concerns, and facilitate the formulation of potential solutions”.

South Africa’s electricity infrastructure is ageing, and there are maintenance challenges. Most of the country’s electricity is derived from coal, with nuclear energy from Koeberg, and a gradual introduction of renewables in the form of photovoltaics, which are expensive.

Hosted at UP, the debate addressed the current state of the energy market, the integration of renewable energy and moving towards a clean energy transition, as well as the current business models in the electricity sector. The overarching themes included emerging trends from a digital and innovation point of view, and smart grids as the future of the country.

Among the topics discussed were decentralisation as a driving force behind fundamental changes in the energy value chain, and the biggest disruptors facing the sector, such as blockchain.  The recently published 2018 Integrated Resource Plan, which looks at South Africa’s national electricity roadmap and includes a dynamic energy mix to meet South Africa’s demand, was also discussed.

The panelists included Sibu Mvana, Energy Unit Leader, Aurecon South Africa; Pule Segale, Future Energy Leader of the World Energy Council; and Maloba Tshehla of the Climate Innovation Centre at the Innovation Hub. The event was attended by Prof Sunil Maharaj, UP’s Dean of EBIT, and representatives of the engineering sector.

According to the Forum, the event was “intended to serve as a starting point for the active participation of young professionals towards the future of the energy and power sector, as leaders of tomorrow”.

As a follow-up to the event, the Forum will be publishing a manifesto, as a commitment from all young professionals in the sector to bring about positive change “through working towards the democratisation of energy for all citizens and facilitation of a clean, reliable power system that will allow for the adequate development of the country and create a sustainable and fair energy future for all South Africans”.

The debate was streamed to audiences in Cape Town, Uganda and the United States, and it will be available on the Forum’s website. For more information, please go to

- Author Primarashni Gower

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