President Cyril Ramaphosa has said government’s decision to allow self-generation and to accelerate purchase of power from independent producers ushers in a “new era in energy generation” in South Africa.
Ramaphosa made the comments in an article published in the Daily Maverick on Wednesday.
He wrote, “In effect, the path has been cleared for the expansion and diversification of energy production on a significant scale.”
‘Load shedding sparked greater urgency’
Ramaphosa said while these measures were part of the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) adopted in October, the recent load shedding crisis means they have to be implemented “with greater urgency and on a larger scale.”
He added, “With the publication of a Request for Information (RFI) last Friday, government has launched a power purchase programme to fill the current short-term supply gap and to reduce the use of expensive diesel generators during peak times.
“The programme will prioritise power projects that can deliver power into the grid in the shortest possible time, between three to six months and six to 12 months from approval.”
The President said government will remove bureaucratic constraints to enable electricity users to generate electricity for their own use.
Self-generation applications fast-tracked
“The Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy and the National Energy Regulator are fast-tracking applications for industry and business to produce and use its own electricity,” he wrote.
Ramaphosa explained that these measures will raise additional capacity of up to 5,000MW in the immediate term to give Eskom a chance to conduct much-needed maintenance on its power stations without resorting to load shedding.
The RFI has a deadline of 31 January, 2020. Government will also consider other options, such as floating power barges with gas turbines and energy from the Southern African Power Pool members, Ramaphosa said.
He however acknowledged that while the measures will provide relief to Eskom, they will not solve its underlying challenges.
These include inadequate adherence to its maintenance programme, poor procurement practices and a technical skills deficit.
Ramaphosa wrote, “While government has told the Eskom leadership that they will be held to account for disciplined adherence to this maintenance plan and will be assisted in every way to ensure it succeeds, the prospect of load shedding will remain until more generating capacity is brought on stream through these immediate interventions.”
To read the full article on Daily Maverick, click here.