Large businesses commanded to lower their electricity consumption

On Thursday, the South African President Jacob Zuma addressed the current energy crisis and its impact on the growth of the economy at the State of the Nation address in Parliament, Cape Town.

In Zuma’s presentation he assured the nation that short to medium term solutions were on the cards to increase power supply to meet demand, Creamer media reported.

Power utility Eskom, will receive ZAR23 billion ($2 billion) during the 2015/16 fiscal year from the state indicating that the ZAR3 billion ($255 million) loan the utility asked for to increase diesel supply for February and March had officially been approved. This is in addition to the ZAR20 billion ($2 billion) loan approved by Finance minister Nhlanhla Nene in October 2014.

Eskom has recently established a war room to discuss strategic decisions of where and how to improve the existing coal-fired power plants to avoid a potential grid collapse.

“The war room established by Cabinet in December is working diligently around the clock with Eskom, to stabilise the electricity supply system and contain the load shedding”, Zuma said.

To reduce the high costs and emissions linked to the use of high loads of diesel, Eskom has been instructed to convert the existing diesel generators in the Western Cape to operate on gas. This fuel source has proved to be a valuable commodity with plans to be integrated into the energy mix.

Procurement plans

Zuma acknowledged the almost 4 000MW renewable power generation procurement, reeling in ZAR140 billion ($12 billion) of private investment. He added that plans were in the pipeline to generate 2 600MW of hydroelectric power.

In addition, he said that a procurement programme for a 2 200MW gas-fired generation plant would start in the first quarter of the new fiscal year to be developed by independent power producers (IPPs).

Plans for developing 9 600MW of nuclear power generation capacity were still underway despite concerns shown by the public. Zuma said that the first nuclear unit would be in full operation by 2023.

“To date government has signed Inter-Governmental Agreements and carried out vendor parade workshops in which five countries came to present their proposals on nuclear. These include the United States of America, South Korea, Russia, France and China. All these countries will be engaged in a fair, transparent, and competitive procurement process to select a strategic partner or partners to undertake the nuclear build programme”, Zuma said.