President urges households to invest in solar
South Africa’s electricity sector is undergoing the most significant reform process in the country’s history.
So said president Cyril Ramaphosa yesterday, when presenting the Presidency Budget vote 2022 to the National Assembly.
According to Ramaphosa, SA faces an energy shortfall of 6 000MW and renewable energy can play a big role in plugging this gap.
During his State of the Nation Address in February, Ramaphosa said the country’s energy shortfall stood at 4 000MW.
This, as the country continues to face electricity challenges which have seen embattled power utility Eskom implementing crippling bouts of load-shedding.
Amid the energy crisis, the president urged households and businesses to invest in solar energy.
“We are on the cusp of a fundamental transformation in the electricity sector,” said Ramaphosa.
“Once these changes are implemented, we will have multiple generators competing to supply electricity at the lowest cost and selling power directly to customers.”
He said the country will unleash new public and private sector investment in generation capacity at a massive scale.
“In the short-term, however, we are seized with the need to get as much new generation capacity onto the grid as possible, as quickly as possible. We will soon be introducing extra measures to bring new capacity online.”
The president said government will work to close the electricity gap in six ways.
“Firstly, improve the performance of existing power stations and ensure additional units at Medupi and Kusile come online according to schedule. Secondly, ensure projects from existing procurement programmes, including Bid Window 5, are able to reach close and connect to the grid as quickly as possible.
“Thirdly, accelerate private sector investment in generation capacity under 100MW. Fourthly, enable Eskom to purchase surplus power from existing power producers. Fifthly, support municipalities to procure power independently.
“Sixthly, encourage households and businesses to invest in small-scale solar power installations and feed energy to the grid.”
Work is already under way in each of these areas, Ramaphosa said.
He added there is coordination with all relevant departments, Eskom and the private sector to accelerate embedded generation projects.
“We have already simplified the registration process by removing the requirement of a power purchase agreement for registration, shortened the timeframes for environmental authorisation, and increased Eskom’s capacity to process grid connection applications.”
The first two embedded generation projects under 100MW were successfully registered two weeks ago, and a further 16 projects were registered by the regulator this week, he noted.
A total of 68 projects are now in development, with a combined capacity of over 5 000MW that will begin to connect to the grid over the next few months.
“Alongside these immediate interventions, the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy will drive the process of reviewing and updating the Integrated Resource Plan 2019 to ensure it remains relevant in light of the electricity shortfall and our climate change commitments.”
Meanwhile, deputy president David Mabuza says government has begun implementing solutions to ensure there is energy security at power utility Eskom.
Participating in a debate of the Presidency budget vote on Thursday, the deputy president said as a caring government, the Presidency was aware of the inconvenience and hardship that load-shedding caused to people’s lives.
“As government, we are well aware of the detrimental effect load-shedding has on the economy, as well as the inconvenience and hardship it causes for the country, its citizens and businesses.
“Under the stewardship of the Eskom Political Task Team, we have begun implementing solutions to ensure energy security and long-term viability of Eskom.
“Government will also continue to support Eskom's implementation of a credible and transparent national maintenance programme, which will ensure power generation plants operate at optimal levels to reduce the negative impact of electricity supply interruptions.”
Mabuza said government was also exploring and implementing alternative energy generation measures to enhance the nation’s capacity to provide uninterrupted electricity for economic growth and development.