Sona 2022: Government taking ‘firm steps’ to reduce energy shortfalls — Ramaphosa

Days after a fresh round of rolling blackouts, President Cyril Ramaphosa told South Africans on Thursday that the rapid expansion of South Africa’s generation capacity was underway.

“In the last few days, we have once again been reminded of the fragility of our electricity system,” he said in his 2022 State of the Nation address. “Load-shedding continues to have a huge impact on the lives of South Africans, disrupting businesses and placing additional strains on families and communities.”

Because of the country’s ageing power stations, poor maintenance, “policy missteps” and the “ruinous infection of state capture”, South Africa has a shortfall of about 4 000 megawatts of electricity.

During the past year the government had taken “firm steps” to bring additional generation capacity online as quickly as possible to close this shortfall, Ramaphosa said.

As a result, several new generation projects will be coming online over the next few years, the president added. 

“This includes over 500MW from the remaining projects in bid window four of the renewable energy programme, which are at an advanced stage of construction; it also includes 2 600MW from bid window five of the renewable energy programme.” 

The preferred bidders were announced last October.

“It also includes up to 800MW from those risk-mitigation power projects that are ready to proceed and includes 2 600MW from bid window six of the renewable energy programme, which will soon be opened,” said Ramaphosa.

Ramaphosa said these projects included 3 000MW of gas power and 500MW of battery storage, for which requests for proposals will be released later this year. 

These included an estimated 4 000MW from embedded generation projects in the mining sector and about 1 400MW in the process of being secured by various municipalities. 

In addition to closing the energy-supply shortfall, the government is implementing “fundamental changes” to the structure of the energy sector. Eskom has established a separate transmission subsidiary and is on track to complete its unbundling by December,” Ramaphosa said. 

He added that the state power utility “has continued with its intensive maintenance programme, to reverse many years of neglected maintenance and underperformance of existing plants.” 

To regulate all these reforms, Ramaphosa said, the cabinet on Wednesday approved amendments to the Electricity Regulation Act, for public comment.

 “These far-reaching amendments will enable a competitive market for electricity generation and the establishment of an independent state-owned transmission company,” the president said.

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Sheree Bega
Sheree Bega is an environment reporter at the Mail & Guardian.

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