by SAVIOUS KWINIKA
JOHANNESBURG – PRESIDENT Cyril Ramaphosa “significant progress” has been in resolving the load shedding crisis, a year since South Africa launched the Energy Action Plan.
He expressed his sentiments on Monday at the release of a report outlining work done to improve the performance of Eskom’s power stations, accelerate the building of new generation capacity and drive regulatory reforms to transform the electricity sector.
“Although loadshedding has continued, as was anticipated, we have managed to avert a worst case scenario by stabilising the performance of Eskom’s power stations and reducing demand,” Ramaphosa wrote in his weekly letter.
He said Eskom’s generation fleet continues to show “sustained improvement.”
Unplanned losses have been reduced to less than 16 000 MW in the last two months, down from more than 18 000 MW previously.
Planned maintenance has been reduced during the winter period, with Eskom having undertaken significant maintenance in the months preceding winter.
Looking ahead, Ramaphosa said damaged units at the Kusile and Medupi power stations were being returned to service on an expedited basis. In combination these units represent more than 3 000 MW of capacity.
The Eskom debt relief package announced by the Minister of Finance is anticipated to enable necessary investment in maintenance and expansion of the transmission network.
Ramaphosa said since the launch of the Energy Action Plan, the government has worked to add as much power as possible to the grid.
Eskom has unlocked close to 400 MW from companies with extra available capacity, and a further 600 MW is currently in the contracting process. South Africa has sourced an additional 400 MW from Cahora Bassa in Mozambique.
Government is fast-tracking the procurement of new generation capacity from renewables, gas and battery storage.
Later this year, the first three projects from the emergency power programme are expected to connect to the grid.
Also later this year, around 2 300 MW from the most recent bid windows of the renewable energy independent power producer programme should be in construction.
Ramaphosa noted one of the important contributions to the energy plan has been the uptake by households and businesses of rooftop solar.
“It is encouraging to see that more municipalities are allowing customers to feed electricity into the grid when they have surplus electricity.”
Regulatory changes include the removal of the licensing threshold for generation facilities and the fast-tracking of project approvals and registration.
To encourage everyone to get involved, the government is launching a website where citizens can track the work of the National Energy Crisis Committee and see how to reduce their consumption and save on energy bills.
“We have maintained that loadshedding will not be resolved overnight, but we are making clear progress towards reducing it and eventually bringing it to an end,” the president said.
– CAJ News