South Africa

Durban’s R324 billion power plan

Durban

The South African municipality that includes the port city of Durban, eThekwini, has laid out plans to attract R324 billion in power plant investments by 2035 amid the country’s worst-ever electricity outages.

This city of about 4 million people, South Africa’s third biggest, plans to issue a request for proposals for the construction of 400 megawatts of power generation capacity later this year or early in 2023, depending on when it gets permission from the National Treasury.

The tender could attract R10 billion in investment, Sbu Ntshalintshali, the municipality’s head of energy transition, said in a presentation dated Sept. 13.

South Africa’s biggest cities are working to secure their own power supplies as Eskom, the highly indebted national utility struggles to meet demand due to breakdowns at its poorly maintained coal-fired power plants.

The country has seen more than 100 days of power outages this year. Cape Town is assessing bids for independent power provision, and Johannesburg is planning a tender to do the same.

eThekwini’s longer-term plans are for the procurement of 2,600 megawatts of generation by 2035 from a mix of power sources, including coal and nuclear.

The first independent plants are expected to generate electricity in 2025. The initial plants will supply solar power and electricity generated from natural gas, Ntshalintshali said.

The city is seeking to have its power supplied from the following sources:

  • 940 MW of nuclear power
  • 850 MW of power from natural gas
  • 500 MW of coal-fired generation
  • 300 MW from offshore wind-power plants
  • 200 MW of photovoltaic solar power
  • 110 MW generated from biomass
  • 50 MW from waste-to-energy plants
  • 50 MW of hydropower

Meanwhile, The South African government has held urgent meetings to find ways to ease record rolling blackouts, with state-owned power utility Eskom has already announced some of the measures, President Cyril Ramaphosa said in his weekly letter to the nation.

The country has endured a record six days of 6,000-megawatt power cuts, known in South Africa as stage 6 load-shedding, and a total of 106 days of outages, according to Bloomberg calculations.

“We will remain seized with this issue until the situation is resolved,” Ramaphosa said in his letter, without detailing any extra steps his government is prepared to take to prop up the electricity grid.

“The severe load shedding of the last few days has reminded us how unstable our ageing power stations are. It has given greater urgency to the measures we announced two months ago to stabilize our electricity supply.”

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