Eskom gets permission to source 12,000MW of power from independent sources

The Department of Energy has gazetted a new determination for the Energy Regulation Act, allowing power utility Eskom to source over 11,800 megawatts of power from Independent Power Producers (IPPs).

The department said that new generation capacity is needed in the country to contribute to its growing power demands, and the new determination allows Eskom to tap renewable, gas, and coal producers for this.

It breaks down the capacity as follows:

  • 6,800 megawatts from renewable (wind and solar) sources;
  • 3,000 megawatts from gas sources;
  • 1,500 megawatts from coal sources; and
  • 513 megawatts from storage.

“Electricity from the new generation capacity shall be procured through one or more tendering procedures…and shall target connection to the grid as soon as reasonably possible within the given timeline,” the department said.

“The electricity must be purchased from independent power producers.”

The timelines are outlined in the department’s Integrated Resource Plan of 2019, where the focus has been placed on decommissioning the country’s dependence on coal power, in favour of alternatives such as wind, solar and gas.

The renewable components are projected for the 2022 to 2024 allotment, with the gas component projected for completion by 2027.

By 2030, the department expects around 11,000 megawatts of coal power to be decommissioned; however, when coupled with new coal sources, it will still contribute the biggest proportion of South Africa’s energy mix (approximately 33,400 megawatts – or 43% of total capacity).

Over the same period, renewable energy is expected to see the biggest climb to about one third (26,000 megawatts, or 33%) of total installed capacity. Other sources would include gas (8%), hydro (6%) and nuclear (2%) – which still remains part of the long-term energy mix plans.

Despite government’s pivot away from nuclear energy builds, Energy and Mineral Resources minister Gwede Mantashe has maintained that nuclear remains part of the country’s plans.

In May, the department said that it plans to expand nuclear capacity within the next five years.

The country currently has a single nuclear plant. A drive for additional facilities largely faded after the ruling party forced Jacob Zuma to step down as president in 2018.

Additional plants were widely considered unaffordable, and the nation’s economic slump has further dented the government’s ability to pay for them. Under Zuma, government was pushing for a build of multiple nuclear plants in the country, which some analysts projected would cost the country over R1 trillion.

Speaking at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) general conference earlier this month, Mantashe said that South Africa has commenced consultations with suppliers of nuclear power reactors to provide costing and schedule information and possible ownership models, through a Request for Information for the 2,500MW programme issued in June 2020.

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Eskom gets permission to source 12,000MW of power from independent sources