Deputy Minister for Public Enterprises Phumulo Masualle has outlined the measures taken by the government to assist Eskom in its struggles with generation capacity.
Responding to oral questions before the National Council of Provinces on Tuesday, Masualle highlighted Eskom’s plan to recover generation capacity.
He also said that the nature of unplanned breakdowns in concurrence with the strategy of reliability or long-term maintenance makes load-shedding “unavoidable”.
“There are two elements of the strategy going forward by Eskom. The first is that of heightened maintenance of some of the operating units, which has not been done over a period of time,” Masualle said.
“The strategy is that in order to regain some of the generating capacity, some of the plants that are due for maintenance should be taken out.”
“But we continue to experience other breakdowns in the other plants which tend to create a situation where in a day, we have in excess of 11,500MW of power that is missed out of the rest of the generation fleet, which then makes this load-shedding unavoidable in a sense,” he said.
This conundrum was highlighted by Eskom CEO Andre De Ruyter in a recent State of the System briefing, who noted that load-shedding would remain a significant risk until reliability maintenance was completed.
Government support of Eskom
Masualle noted that the government was giving support to Eskom to reduce the risk of load-shedding and accelerate its restoration to a functional and reliable power utility.
“Going forward we are working to ensure that improvements and efficiencies are achieved in terms of the operational capacity both at Medupi and Kusile, attending to the defects that prevent us from achieving maximum output from there,” he said.
He added that the Department of Public Enterprises was working with the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy to acquire additional generation capacity to supplement the national power grid.
“We are also working with DMRE acquiring additional capacity from independent power producers to close the capacity gap that is there,” Masualle said.
“These are the measures and support that government is giving to Eskom to mitigate the current environment.”
This is part of the government’s plan to source more energy from independent power producers to alleviate the demand on Eskom.
In his State of the Nation Address last month, President Cyril Ramaphosa said restoring Eskom to operational and financial health and accelerating its restructuring process is central to the rapid expansion of South Africa’s energy generation capacity.
The government is taking extraordinary action to improve generation capacity in South Africa and supplement Eskom’s insufficient generation.
Ramaphosa said the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy will soon announce the successful bids for 2,000MW of emergency power to help curb load-shedding.
Independent power producers are also now able to sell electricity to local municipalities.
“The necessary regulations have been amended and the requirements clarified for municipalities to buy power from independent power producers,” Ramaphosa said.
“Systems are being put in place to support qualifying municipalities.”
In addition to these measures, the government will also soon procure an additional 11,800MW of power from renewable energy, natural gas, battery storage and coal, he said.