Load-shedding could end in 2025

Independent political analyst JP Landman said South Africa could see the end of load-shedding by the end of 2025 if renewables continue their current growth trajectory.

At the Nedgroup Investments Cash Solutions roundtable on 24 April, Landman explained why South Africa has load-shedding.

In short, he said Eskom has a 6 GW shortfall to meet the country’s demand. This could be fixed by using its coal-fired power stations to produce 6 GW more than they currently do.

However, Eskom’s ageing coal-fired power plants are unreliable and often experience unplanned breakdowns, which leads to this 6 GW deficit.

Renewable energy is in some ways less effective than coal-fired power, and to fix the 6 GW deficit, 21 GW of renewable energy would be required to plug the load gap for base power. 

While this may still seem far off, Landman said just 5 GW of renewable power can result in a 61% reduction in load-shedding. 

“If the growth of renewable continues along the expected trajectory, I believe that by the end of 2025, we may have addressed most of the load-shedding issues caused by a lack of generation capacity,” he said. 

He emphasised that this only refers to load-shedding caused by a lack of generation. For example, a municipality’s failure to maintain its grid could still cause load-shedding.

However, with the number of renewable projects currently in the pipeline, Landman said South Africa could see the end of load-shedding caused by a lack of generation by 30 June 2025.

He also stressed that much of the financing for these initiatives is expected to come from the private sector.

To support this significant onboarding of renewables, Eskom must expand its grid.

The utility has announced its ambitious plan to build 14,000 km of transmission lines over ten years. This plan will require an investment of R235 billion. 

However, Landman said that by 2030, R1.5 trillion is required for new generation, transmission and distribution capacity.

“Money is not the problem; there is enough money in South Africa,” Landman explained. 

“The challenge is to channel the funds into the right projects – and there is a lot of work going on in the private sector in this regard. There are a lot of positives, but it will take time.”

“Development through the private sector is not just a possibility; it’s a certainty.”

Political analyst JP Landman

Green energy boom

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 massive solar boom.

It said 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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