Opening up sector will boost supply of electricity, says Cyril Ramaphosa

28 September 2020 - 11:51
President Cyril Ramaphosa says the government aims to procure power through solar, wind and gas generation. This will allow the economy to grow and attract investments. File photo.
President Cyril Ramaphosa says the government aims to procure power through solar, wind and gas generation. This will allow the economy to grow and attract investments. File photo.
Image: Sunday Times/Esa Alexander

In a bid to help the country’s ailing coal-fuelled power stations, the government is opening up the power supply sector to secure almost 12,000MW of additional power from different sources, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Monday.

Ramaphosa wrote in his weekly newsletter: “Following the commitments we made in the state of the nation address in February, government has now gazetted ministerial determinations that will enable the development of more than 11,800MW of additional power generation.

“To give a sense of the scale of this development, SA now has in the region of more than 30,000MW of electricity available on the national grid each day,” he said.

The president said government was looking at procuring this power through solar, wind and gas generation.

Transparent tendering process

“This electricity will be procured through a transparent tendering process that prioritises competitiveness and cost-effectiveness,” he said.  

Having more power generation would make SA desirable for international business investors and would also increase employment opportunities, Ramaphosa said, adding this would be beneficial as the country tried to recover from the lockdown.

“Reliable, secure and affordable energy supply is the lifeblood of any economy. To limit the affect of climate change, it is equally important that energy is sustainable and environmentally sound.”

Independent producers

Government was also trying to make things easier for independent power producers.

“In an effort to facilitate electricity self-generation and as part of the reform process, we have removed the licensing requirement for self-generation projects under 1MW. So far 156 self-generation facilities under 1MW have been registered, with a total installed capacity of 72MW,” Ramaphosa said.

“For facilities that can generate above one megawatt, the National Energy Regulator of SA (Nersa) is improving its licensing processes to improve turnaround time. Five such facilities, with total installed capacity of 25MWs, have been licensed. Further work is being undertaken to reform the regulatory environment to ensure we make fuller use of the great potential for self-generation among commercial and industrial users.”

Ramaphosa said there were draft amendments in the pipeline to allow municipalities in good standing to procure their own power from independent power producers. This would soon be gazetted.

Eskom's challenges

As the government looked at alternative power supply, it would not neglect Eskom. Ramaphosa said they were working with the power utility to restore its operational capabilities.

“We are making progress in overcoming the challenges Eskom has been facing over a number of years. As part of the necessary restructuring process, separate governance structures in the form of boards have been appointed for the power utility’s generation, transmission and distribution divisions, as we announced in the state of the nation address.

“Improvements are continuing in municipal debt collection. Despite recent challenges with load-shedding, maintenance work is continuing at power stations,” he said.  

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