Government needs private sector money to end load-shedding

Asset manager Futuregrowth said the government must be intentional and act speedily to resolve South Africa’s energy issues using the private money ready to fund clean energy projects.

Futuregrowth’s Bonga Maliwa said South Africa has been heavily impacted by load-shedding over recent years.

The energy crisis has had serious negative consequences for the country’s GDP growth and the general economic well-being of the South African population.

“It is our view that the government should be intentional and act speedily to solve our energy problems by leveraging the large amount of private capital that is readily available to fund renewable energy projects,” he said. 

He explained that the Renewable Independent Power Producer Program (REIPPP) has been successful and is an example of what is possible. 

By the end of 2021, it saw R210 billion of capital deployed into 6.4 GW of renewable energy projects, with 67 new producers connected to the national grid – “ostensibly without procurement irregularities, corruption or malfeasance”.

In addition, solving the country’s energy problem also requires the expansion of the grid, which will require around R390 billion of capital investment. 

He said the government has recognised, on many occasions, that it has limited funds to invest towards building additional transmission capacity. 

“The feedback given by the private sector has been clear in its willingness to work with government to provide the necessary capital to expand the grid,” he said. 

“Again, the solution seems clear: The government must leverage private sector funding to support the expansion of the grid, especially given the success story of REIPPP as an example.”

Green investment boom

South Africa has seen a massive influx in renewable energy investments and projects over the past few years, with a big boom in 2023.

This was revealed at the Nedgroup Pre-elections Treasurers’ Roundtable on 24 April 2024, where Nedbank economist Isaac Matshego said fixed investment spending in the country was initially stimulated by the demand for renewables.

As Eskom has struggled to meet the demand for electricity in South Africa and implemented more frequent and intense load-shedding, households and businesses have turned to alternative energy solutions.

BloombergNEF’s global PV market outlook for the first quarter of 2024 said South Africa’s electricity crisis has led to a huge solar boom.

The country is expected to become the world’s tenth-largest solar photovoltaic (PV) market this year.

According to the report, the global PV industry added about 444 GW of new capacity in 2023 internationally, a 76% increase from 2022. 

In addition, solar module prices are at record lows, and there is a plentiful supply of components. Therefore, installations this year are expected to top 520 GW globally.

In South Africa, Eskom estimates that rooftop solar additions totalled 2.6 GW in 2023. However, the BloombergNEF database tracked an additional 676 MW. This takes the total for 2023 to about 3.3 GW.

In 2024, the report expects rooftop solar to grow, particularly in the winter months of May, June, and July, when load-shedding is more frequent and severe. 

Residential demand for solar is linked directly to load-shedding and slows down as soon as load-shedding stops. The report also expects business adoption of rooftop solar to accelerate.

Renewable energy solutions are also being implemented in large-scale projects, with 6.28 GW of renewable energy capacity installed in 2023 and a further 2.4 GW of projects registered with NERSA.

For perspective, Eskom’s second largest power station, Majuba, has an installed capacity of 4.11 GW.


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