South Africa’s plan to end load-shedding in two years — declare energy emergency now

The South African government’s National Planning Commission (NPC) has proposed that the country declare an “energy emergency” to enable the swift construction of 10,000MW of generating capacity and 5,000MW of energy storage to end load-shedding within two years.

Established in May 2010, the NPC is an agency tasked with conducting strategic planning for the country, with its head reporting directly to the president.

It is currently chaired by Minister in the Presidency, Mondli Gungubele, and includes a panel of independent experts to help make informed decisions on South Africa’s future.

The NPC said it had noted with “great concern” the persistence of load-shedding, which had peaked at stage 6 in the past few weeks.

“Ending load-shedding needs to become a unifying national goal for the whole country and all stakeholders. Everyone should do their part to achieve this overriding single goal,” the commission said.

“The NPC has consistently emphasised that the goals of the National Development Plan cannot be achieved without energy security,” it stated.

“South Africa has suffered load-shedding since 2008 which has, in turn, constrained many developmental policies and strategies.”

The commission said the most immediate priority should be ensuring new generation capacity is rapidly and urgently brought onto the grid, in addition to substantial new energy storage.

“Evidence suggests it is possible to do this within 24 months, if 10,000 MW of new generation capacity is rapidly constructed and commissioned as well as 5,000MW of storage capacity,” said the NPC.

It said solar and wind power projects could be built quickly within two to three years.

To add the generating capacity and storage swiftly, the NPC said the country must declare an “energy emergency”.

That would make it possible to override some of the “red tape” preventing accelerated generation delivery.

The key obstacles that must be addressed include:

  • Removing the 100MW ceiling for embedded private power generation because Eskom’s grid code and grid connection authorisation processes are sufficient to regulate this growing market.
  • Scrapping any Nersa registration process that delays the implementation of projects and replacing it with an online registration procedure for database purposes only.
  • Streamlining environmental and water use approvals to take advantage of the Renewable Energy Development Zone framework that allows for fast-tracking of approvals.
  • Temporarily exempting local content requirements for construction and commissioning of new generation and storage capacity due to come online in the next 36 months.
  • Reaching a formal agreement between key stakeholders that strikes a balance between short-term importation of components with the need for phasing in upstream industrialisation over the medium- to long-term.

The removal of the 100MW ceiling for private power and a temporary exemption from local content requirements for generation and storage capacity directly address concerns previously raised by Eskom CEO André de Ruyter.

In concurrence with numerous energy experts, the commission has also called for the 2019 Integrated Resource Plan to be updated annually based on South Africa’s energy needs.

Furthermore, the commission’s proposals align closely with those made in the national priority project published by energy expert Chris Yelland earlier this week.

Yelland had also proposed that 10,000MW of generating capacity and 5,000MW of storage be procured urgently.

He said this could be achieved by combining wind and PV power generation from various mining, energy, industrial, and agricultural companies, as well as private home users.

“Detailed modelling conclusively shows that if executed properly and on time, the national priority project proposed will stop load-shedding in its tracks, and provide adequate generation capacity reserve that will serve South Africa in good stead,” Yelland explained.

Yelland said that this plan would not negate or obviate the government’s existing procurements.

Yelland outlined how much generation would come from each sector and company in the table below.

Sector Capacity
Domestic sector 1.5 GW
Commercial and industrial sector 2.5 GW
Agricultural sector 1.5 GW
Mining sector 3.5 GW
South32 1.5 GW
Sasol 1.0 GW
Arcelor Mittal 1.0 GW
Eskom 1.5 GW
Municipal metros 1.0 GW
Total 15 GW

Now read: Who to blame for Stage 6 power cuts

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South Africa’s plan to end load-shedding in two years — declare energy emergency now