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Ramaphosa urges businesses and households to install solar panels as he announces measures to deal with electricity crisis

President Cyril Ramaphosa
President Cyril Ramaphosa
Image: GCIS.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced a set of measures aimed at putting the country's electricity crisis to an end.

Addressing the nation on Monday evening, Ramaphosa said some of the steps will include having more businesses and households investing in solar panels.

"South Africa has great abundance of sun which we should use to generate electricity.

"There is significant potential for households and businesses to install rooftop solar and connect this power to the grid.

"To incentivise greater uptake of rooftop solar, Eskom will develop rules and a pricing structure – known as a feed-in tariff – for all commercial and residential installations on its network.

"This means that those who can and have installed solar panels in their homes or businesses will be able to sell surplus power they don’t need to Eskom."

President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday unveiled government's plan to “fix Eskom and improve its existing fleet of power stations”. Ramaphosa listed a number of solutions, including new green energy projects, importing energy from neighbouring countries and a special committee. #eskom #energy #ramaphosa Subscribe to TimesLIVE Video here: https://www.youtube.com/user/TimesLive Comment Moderation Policy: https://www.timeslive.co.za/comments/

Ramaphosa said the measures were meant to accelerate the procurement of new energy generation capacity and increase private investment in it.He said SA had 46,000MW of electricity but only utilised 32,000MW at peak times.

"However, only 60% of this installed capacity is available at any given time due to some units going through planned maintenance and others having unplanned outages," he said.

He said part of the problem was that the construction of the newest power stations, including Medupi and Kusile, started late while they also experienced several delays and some design flaws.

"As a result of this, Eskom deferred essential maintenance to keep the lights on, which is causing breakdowns and failures now," he said.

Ramaphosa also blamed the poor performance of some of Eskom’s power stations on theft, fraud and sabotage.

Ramaphosa said the country was still faced with an electricity shortage of up to 6,000MW.

"In recent weeks, a combination of factors resulted in 18,000MW of generation capacity being lost and forced Eskom to implement stage 6 loadshedding. Eskom has to implement loadshedding to prevent the electricity grid from collapsing, and to ensure that we never experience a complete blackout."

He said the power shortage was a huge constraint on economic growth and job creation. "It deters investment and reduces our economy’s competitiveness."

He said Eskom has taken steps to increase generation capacity and diversify the country's energy supply.

Ramaphosa said independepent power producers have added over 2,000MW of solar and wind power to the grid through Bid Window 4 of the programme.

"A further 2,600MW of capacity has been procured through Bid Window 5, which will begin to add capacity from early 2024."

He said over time the maintenance programme of Eskom’s electricity generation fleet has declined.

"It is now been decided that over the next 12 months, Eskom will increase the budget allocated for critical maintenance to increase the reliability of its generation capacity."

"We are cutting red tape that has made it difficult for Eskom to buy maintenance spares and equipment within the required period to effect repairs."Ramaphosa added that Eskom, which has been plagued with a shortage of skilled personnel, has embarked on a recruitment process to hire former senior Eskom plant managers and engineers from the private sector.

"Over the next three months, Eskom will take additional actions to add new generation capacity to the grid on an urgent basis. As an immediate measure, surplus capacity will be bought from existing independent power producers."

Eskom will also procure electricity from neighbouring countries such as Botswana and Zambia, which have more electricity capacity than they require.

He said Eskom will be constructing its first solar and battery storage projects at several power stations, including Komati, Majuba and Lethabo.

"These will result in over 500MW being added to the system."He said to end loadshedding there was a need to urgently add more capacity to the grid."Our second priority is therefore to accelerate the procurement of new capacity from renewables, gas and battery storage."

"The relevant government departments are working together to ensure that all projects from Bid Window 5 of the renewable energy programme can start construction on schedule.

"This includes taking a pragmatic approach to the local content requirements for these projects, prioritising the need to build new capacity as quickly as possible."

He said government would accelerate greater private investment in generation capacity.We are already working together with industry to accelerate the most advanced projects, several of which are already entering construction.He said goverment will remove the 100 MW licensing threshold for embedded generation completely.

"This will enable private investment in electricity generation to rise to higher levels," he said.

"While they will not require licences, all new generation projects will still have to register with the regulator and comply with the technical requirements for grid connection and our environmental legislation."​

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