150MW of 2,000MW emergency power will be ready one year late

South Africa made some progress toward adding new generation to its underpowered electricity grid, signing power purchase agreements for 150 megawatts of capacity from private projects by developer Scatec ASA that were selected a year ago.

The government’s emergency power program, also known as the risk mitigation program, has experienced multiple delays as the nation heads for a record year of electricity cuts because state-owned utility Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. is unable to meet demand.

The state signed agreements to buy a total of 150 megawatts of power capacity for three projects from the program, the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy said on Thursday.

Although Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe in February 2019 predicted that such a program to source new power quickly could have stations online within two years, none have been added to the grid.

The first projects were picked as preferred bids in March 2021 to source 2,000 megawatts of generation.

The majority of those were won by Karpowership, a supplier of floating gas-fired plants.

However it’s been held up by court cases and awaits various other approvals.

The government did not sign any contracts for the Turkish developer of 1,220 megawatts of planned capacity.

South Africa chose the three additional projects by Oslo-based Scatec in June last year that use solar and battery storage technology.

Construction of those stations is expected to take between a year and 18 months, according to the department.

The nation’s so-called sixth bid window for 2,600 megawatts of private renewable energy projects that opened in April is expected to close in August, the department said.

Now read: How Eskom’s generating capacity was destroyed

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150MW of 2,000MW emergency power will be ready one year late