Daily Eskom power cuts for South Africa and no solutions — because the ANC is in chaos

South Africa’s Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (IPPPP) has faced several delays since the first request for proposal was released in 2011 — and the country won’t see private power added to the grid until mid-2023.

This is according to the chairman of the African Independent Power Producers Association, Thomas Garner.

He explained that mixed messages from the government, poorly designed programmes, and specifically energy minister Gwede Mantashe are to blame for the delays.

“I’m talking about, let’s say, 100MW-sized projects, I would say by June/July 2023. That’s the earliest,” Garner said in response to a question regarding his expectations for when new capacity will be added to the grid.

“To build a power station, whether it is privately owned or whether it’s owned by Eskom or a municipality, is a long-term thing.”

He added that projects are ready to be built. However, companies must first meet compliance requirements set by the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa).

Once an Independent Power Producer (IPP) has registered with the regulator, it then needs to go into financial close, which is a four- to six-month process, according to Garner.

Only after all funding parties reach an agreement can construction start, which Garner estimates will take 12 months for a 100MW solar plant and 18 months for a 100MW wind farm.

Garner also highlighted that under Jacob Zuma’s presidency, the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy was split into separate entities, which worked well when Dipuo Peters was energy minister.

“[She] did a very good job in getting IPPs into the grid,” he said.

However, he added that Brian Molefe and Matshela Koko actively blocked the addition of IPPs when they ran Eskom in the later years of Zuma’s presidency.

Garner said that the mixed messages created uncertainty, and capital flow for such projects dried up in such situations.

Gwede Mantashe, Minister of Mineral Resources & Energy

Garner said that he believes a significant mistake made by President Cyril Ramaphosa was recombining the mineral resources and energy departments with Gwede Mantashe as minister.

“A fatal flaw of his was to combine mineral resources and energy again and give it to minister Mantashe,” Garner stated.

“Minister Mantashe is a fierce opponent of renewable energy, he’s a fierce opponent of the private sector, he’s a centralist and a communist, and he doesn’t want the private sector to actually participate.”

Mantashe has claimed that Eskom is the entity delaying the process, indicating that capacity has been released.

However, the power utility has said that it has not seen any documentation on emergency power agreements. It needs everything to be on the table before it can sign off.

“Minister Mantashe, if he says Eskom is delaying it, I think it’s a broad statement, and it’s probably not true,” Garner said.

He highlighted that cabinet approved the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) towards the end of 2019, and not one megawatt has been procured since.

“There was a delay from the mineral resources and energy department from November 2019 until they came out with the first procurement process, which was the RMIPPP (Risk Mitigation Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme),” he said.

Garner said that the RMIPPP was badly designed, criticising the fact that it is aimed at procuring emergency power over a period of 20 years.

“Where in the world have you seen that? Where in the world have you seen that you expose a country like ours to the US dollar, as well as an oil-based derivative like gas for a 20 year period,” he said.

“It’s absolutely a fatal flaw, and so, the mineral resources and energy minister must look at his own door and stop blaming everybody else.”

Now read: Eskom running out of diesel — warns of worse load-shedding

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Daily Eskom power cuts for South Africa and no solutions — because the ANC is in chaos