Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter wants mines to produce their own electricity so pressure can be taken off the national grid.
This is according to the Sunday Times, which spoke to de Ruyter about self-generation in South Africa.
Although mines provide a large chunk of Eskom’s revenue, he acknowledged that in the near term it will be beneficial if the mining industry generated its own power.
“I’m not that concerned about it because I think in the short term that would be a positive development, because it allows us access to electricity that is currently being generated. We can then use it to add to our own supply,” said de Ruyter.
Having access to more power would allow Eskom to perform maintenance on its infrastructure. It would also prevent mines from having to stop operations due to a lack of power.
The report stated that Anglo American Platinum had been hit by R742 million in lost production due to load-shedding in 2019.
Cost to the SA economy
A recent report by the CSIR Energy Centre shows that South Africa had the worst year of load-shedding on record in 2019, costing the economy between R60 billion and R120 billion last year alone.
The total economic impact of load-shedding in South Africa could be as high as R338 billion over the past 10 years, it added.
Bad news for the country is that load-shedding is expected to continue for the next 2-3 years, depending on how key decisions are handled.
According to the report, urgent action is needed to turn the situation around and to ensure South Africa’s energy sector recovers.
To reduce the chances of load-shedding, Eskom must conduct maintenance on its power plants and infrastructure – but this requires additional capacity to be available.
Without the additional capacity, fixing potential problems becomes difficult.
“Eskom is in a crisis. There’s no denying that. But if I thought this was mission impossible I wouldn’t have taken on the assignment,” said de Ruyter.
“It is… going to take a lot of hard work from the entire Eskom team and SA as well to turn the business around.”
“We need to crowd in private capital to contribute to power generation in SA and whether that be through renewables or other forms of generation is a good thing. We think it gives us the necessary headroom to do what needs to be done.”
In an interview with Rapport, however, de Ruyter said he did not think the privatisation of Eskom was the answer.
If you privatise Eskom, you transfer accountability to a private company. That creates risk, he said.