President Cyril Ramaphosa has detailed the government’s plan to address the problem of load-shedding in South Africa.
In his weekly mail to the nation, he referred to the procurement of power from independent power producers (IPPs) as well as the procurement of renewable electricity generation and additional provision for self-generation as cornerstones of the government’s plan to eliminate load-shedding.
“Every South African knows how important electricity is in our lives. When it is available no one thinks about it,” Ramaphosa said.
“But when we have load shedding everything just goes wrong in our lives at home, in our work environment and practically in every facet of our lives.”
He acknowledged the precarious nature of the country’s national electricity grid, stating that Eskom’s coal-fired power generation infrastructure is ageing and vulnerable to breakdowns.
Reliable and affordable electricity is the lifeblood of the economy, he said, adding that South Africa is still heavily dependent on fossil fuels for electricity generation.
The plan to stop load-shedding
Ramaphosa said it is vital to increase the country’s power generation capacity, referring to the recently gazetted determinations that will allow for more than 11,800MW of power to be procured from IPPs.
“This signals government’s clear intention to move ahead with one of the key reforms that are needed to unlock the growth of our economy and attract much-needed investment,” he said.
“This new energy will be procured from diverse sources, including solar, wind, gas, coal, and storage.”
He said new generation projects that can be connected to the grid as soon as possible will be prioritised and the next step will be to initiate procurement bidding windows, including opening Bid Window 5 of the renewable energy IPP programme.
Self-generation licensing requirements for facilities under 1MW have been removed, and to date 156 self-generation facilities under 1MW have been registered.
“For facilities that can generate above 1 megawatt, the National Energy Regulator of South Africa is improving its licensing processes to improve turnaround time,” he said.
“Further work is being undertaken to reform the regulatory environment to ensure that we make fuller use of the great potential in this country for self-generation among commercial and industrial users.”
He said that new regulations will soon be gazetted which will allow municipalities to buy their own electricity from IPPs.
Huge step forward in energy policy reform
Ramaphosa noted that a reform of the country’s energy policy is needed to improve national electricity availability, and referred to the stabilisation of Eskom as an important factor in this reform.
“In this regard, we are working to restore Eskom’s operational capabilities and restructure Eskom to fundamentally change the way in which we generate and transmit electricity in our country,” he said.
“We are making progress in overcoming the challenges that Eskom has been facing over a number of years.”
He said that the energy policy reform the government is working on is aimed at reducing the impact of electricity interruptions on businesses and promoting investment.
“The latest developments I have highlighted in this letter represent a huge, fundamental step forward in the implementation of our ambitious energy plan,” Ramaphosa said.
“The procurement of power from independent producers will significantly increase investment in the sector, particularly in renewables and gas.”
“This will attract greater investment in energy and create much-needed jobs, and spur business development and localisation,” he said.