This is what government says it has done to combat load-shedding

21 January 2023 - 15:48 By Hendrick Hancke
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The National Energy Crisis Committee is encouraging businesses and households to invest in rooftop solar.
The National Energy Crisis Committee is encouraging businesses and households to invest in rooftop solar.
Image: 123RF/Diyana Dimitrova

The presidency today released an update on interventions President Cyril Ramaphosa promised six months ago to undertake to combat load-shedding.

On its website on Saturday, the presidency said: “In his address to the nation on July 25 2022, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a bold set of actions to address load-shedding and achieve energy security. The National Energy Crisis Committee (Necom) has since been established to oversee the implementation of five key interventions:

• Fix Eskom and improve the availability of existing supply.

• Enable and accelerate private investment in generation capacity.

• Accelerate procurement of new capacity from renewables, gas and battery storage.

• Unleash businesses and households to invest in rooftop solar.

• Fundamentally transform the electricity sector to achieve long-term energy security.

According to the presidency, the “short-term objective of the Energy Action Plan is to reduce the severity and frequency of load-shedding through immediate measures to improve the performance of Eskom’s existing power stations and stabilise the energy system”.

“The long-term objective is to end load-shedding altogether and achieve energy security by adding as much new generation capacity to the grid as possible, as quickly as possible.”

It added that a key list of achievements include:

• Schedule 2 of the Electricity Regulation Act has been amended to remove the licensing requirement for generation projects of any size to enable private investment at a much larger scale.

• A new ministerial determination has been published for more than 18,000MW of new generation capacity from wind, solar and battery storage.

• The pipeline of private-sector embedded generation projects has grown to more than 100 projects, with total capacity of more than 9,000MW.

• Nineteen projects from Bid Window 5 have signed project agreements to supply 1,800MW of solar and wind capacity, and a further six preferred bidders from Bid Window 6 will provide 1,000MW of capacity.

• An additional 300MW of power has been imported from neighbouring countries, with work under way to increase imports from the region.

• Eskom has launched a standard offer programme to purchase up to 1,000MW of power from companies that have existing generation capacity for three years, as well as an emergency generation programme to purchase additional power when the grid is constrained.

Various other actions that have been completed to streamline authorisation processes for energy projects include:

• Transmission infrastructure has been excluded from the need to obtain an environmental authorisation in areas where the environmental impact is low.

• The time frame for environmental authorisations has been reduced to 57 days for projects gazetted as strategic infrastructure projects.

• The time frame for registration with the national energy regulator (Nersa) has been reduced from four months to an average of 19 days.

• The time frame for grid connection has been reduced from nine months to six months.

• The time frame for land-use authorisations for energy projects has been reduced from 90 to 30 days.

The president’s plan had three main objectives: fixing Eskom and improving the performance of existing power stations, accelerating private investment in generation capacity and accelerating new generation capacity.

Regarding objective one, the presidency said: “Eskom has increased outage funding for the current financial year from R8.2bn to R9.5bn.” Procurement has also been addressed.

“Weekly meetings are being held between Eskom and the National Treasury to enable more agile procurement. Exemptions have been provided from local content designations for equipment such as transformers and insulators, to enable expedited procurement.

“The utility is recruiting skilled personnel, including former senior Eskom plant managers and engineers from the private sector.”

Eighteen skilled specialists have been brought back into Eskom to date, including three appointments of former Eskom employees at the level of power station manager for Kendal, Koeberg and Medupi. More than 1,000 people have offered their skills through Eskom’s crowdsourcing platform.

According to the update, there has been progress in Eskom’s fightback against criminality.

“Several law-enforcement and security agencies are working together to address sabotage, theft and fraud at Eskom. A total of 67 cases are on the court roll and three have been finalised with a conviction. Arrests have been made for theft and sabotage at Camden, Matla and other power stations.”

To accelerate private investment in generation capacity, the government has taken several steps.

“Since the licensing threshold was raised to 100MW in October 2021, the pipeline of private sector projects has grown to more than 100,  with more than 9,000MW of new capacity. Schedule 2 has now been amended to remove the licensing requirement for generation projects of any size. Work is under way to develop an “omnibus bill” that will incorporate the required legislative amendments (where processes cannot be waived or streamlined under existing legislation).”

Time frames have been significantly reduced for regulatory approvals:

• Land-use authorisations for energy projects are being prioritised (time frames have been reduced from 90 to 30 days).

• The registration process has been significantly simplified (time frames reduced from four months to 19 days).

• Embedded generation projects have been gazetted as strategic integrated projects, reducing the time frame for environmental authorisation to 57 days.

• Eskom has reduced time frames for access to the grid.

To accelerate new generation capacity, the following has been done:

• A total of 162MW of surplus capacity has been identified from existing IPPs.

• Work is under way between the IPP office and generators to unlock this capacity, including additional grid strengthening required.

• Eskom has launched a standard offer programme to procure up to 1,000MW of power from companies which have existing generation capacity for three years.


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