/ 25 March 2024

Ramokgopa wants less red tape to get renewable energy onto the electricity grid faster

Safrica Energy
Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa. (Photo by Ihsaan HAFFEJEE / AFP)

Eskom has asked the department of forestry, fisheries and the environment to reduce red tape in approving environmental impact assessments to increase electricity generation from renewable energy, said Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa.

On Monday, Ramokgopa told a media briefing that this initiative aims to accelerate the pace of getting renewable energy units onto the electricity grid faster to address high levels of load-shedding.  

He added that there are about 120 projects that would provide some 12 000 megawatts but they need to go through a number of departments before they are approved.

“What we have done is to create a single window of entry, what we refer to as a one-stop shop, so that project developers don’t necessarily have that onerous responsibility of going to multiple departments. They simply go onto this platform and they are able to make these applications.” 

Ramokgopa said Solar and wind energy projects did not cause “too much environmental damage” and should have a smoother environmental process to get them into the grid.

Ramokgopa said the delay was undermining investor confidence in the renewable projects. “One of the issues raised, among others, was the slow nature of the approval process in relation to the environmental assessment process and from an investor community point of view, that can undermine the commercial proposition they are putting across because time is money.”

Ramokgopa said Eskom will ramp up maintenance at six problematic power stations that require immediate attention to ensure that load-shedding is lessened during the winter period. 

“Among them are Tutuka, Kendal, Kusile. Essentially, over a period of time they come across as being problematic and therefore they require added attention,” he said.

Maintenance is part of a “calculated risk” strategy, where the power utility has to take units offline for repairs but this leaves the grid vulnerable to shocks if other units fail or something else happens to cut supply, Ramokgopa said. 

“The more aggressive we go on maintenance, the more reliable the units are when we bring them back online; they are also a bit more efficient,” he added.

Eskom is expected to announce its winter plan by May.

“You will see that as we move into the winter period, [on] the colder days we’re going to bring down our planned outages and as we bring down the planned outages, it means we are ramping up on available capacity so that you’re able to meet demand so that we don’t see [an] intensification of load-shedding,” he said.