design defects medupi
Medupi Power Station, South Africa.

In South Africa, a post-SONA media briefing about power generation with Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe outlined governments approach to addressing the need for additional energy capacity.

As loadshedding once again puts a strain on South Africa’s economy, Mantashe said that the department was moving at a “calculated pace” in its endeavours to respond to the energy crisis.

However, the minister stressed that the government won’t be rushed in its approach as “that’s how mistakes happen”.

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The minister highlighted that in 2019, in response to Stage 6 loadshedding, the department put out a request for information (RFI) from independent power suppliers. The RFI aims to assess the availability of immediate implementable generation options and the commercial terms expected by these projects.

From this RFI, Mantashe said that government had received 481 responses, which are being analysed to see which sources can be used to bring emergency power online within the next 24 months.

“On the request for information, we received 481 responses. We are going through them to see who can give us energy within the next 12 months, the next 24 months, and the next 36 months. So that is the stage we are in,” he said.

According to the minister, 18,000MW of new power generation capacity from coal, diesel, renewables and pumped storage has been committed to and used on the grid since IRP 2010.

“However, intermittent supply deficiency problems persist. Due to unavailability of the bulk of the generation plant, because of breakdowns, Eskom is unable to reliably meet any peak electricity demand above 31,000MW,” he said, stressing that, according to Eskom, the country faces at least two years minimum of potential loadshedding. 

Mantashe added that the department would not be rushed by renewable energy lobbyists to open the renewable energy IPP procurement programme’s bid window 5.

He cautioned that it is a misnomer to think that opening bid window 5 would spell the end of loadshedding. “Creating energy capacity is not an instant coffee, it’s a long-term plan. If you are going to treat it as instant coffee, you are going to make mistakes,” he said.

He emphasised that the S34 determinations – which would allow municipalities to procure electricity from independent power producers – need to first be concurred with by the energy regulator before this bid window can be opened.

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