South Africa’s power generation system is recovering, and that’s been reflected in fewer power cuts recently, according to the minister of electricity.
It’s “no accident” that the country has seen a recent reduction in so-called load-shedding, as South Africa has managed to boost its generation to over 29,900 megawatts, with demand at around 30,000 megawatts, Kgosientso Ramokgopa said at a media briefing in Pretoria on Sunday.
South Africa now has electricity available to its citizens for about two-thirds of each day, he said, after an extended period in which power cuts needed to be implemented for as long as 12 hours a day.
“Electricity generation is now beginning to keep up with demand,” said Ramokgopa at the briefing. “We will resolve load-shedding.”
Africa’s most industrialized nation has been subject to electricity outages since 2008 because state utility Eskom has been unable to meet the demand for power from its old and poorly maintained plants.
With a deepening power crisis in recent years, President Cyril Ramaphosa made some key appointments to the utility’s board and created the position of electricity minister to focus on the problems. The shortage of electricity has pushed up the cost of doing business and curbed the growth of the South African economy.
Work is underway to get the country toward 70% energy availability by the end of the year, said Ramokgopa. Plans to get additional units to work at Kusile and Medupi, the country’s two newest coal-fired power stations, will add another 4,000 megawatts to the grid during the year, he said.
South Africa is currently sitting at 60% energy availability, up from about 48% before the latest interventions, said Ramokgopa. The country’s utility has ramped up maintenance of its ageing fleet, even during winter when demand for electricity picks up.
Large-scale renewable energy projects are also starting to come online. Connecting the new plants to the national grid makes an upgrade of the transmission system more urgent, the minister said. Ramokgopa said options to finance South Africa’s need for additional grid were being considered, including tapping into the liquidity of the private sector, without relinquishing state control.
The utility has set aside R72 billion ($3.8 billion) over the next three years to fund its transmission development plan, he said.
“We are beginning to state the case to not kick the can down the road because we are going to sit with a transmission problem,” said Ramokgopa. “The biggest risk to any remote possibility of the grid collapsing is not on the generation side, it would be on the transmission side.”