'Cold front should not impact loadshedding': Ramokgopa
Electricity minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa reassures South Africa that efforts to resolve the country's electricity crisis are succeeding
As South Africa braces for the coldest day of the year on Monday during the ongoing energy crisis, it is “unlikely” that plummeting temperatures will impact on the severity of loadshedding.
This promise that there is enough “leeway in the system to deal with peak weather patterns” was the main message from electricity minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa in his weekly update on the implementation of the Energy Action Plan — which this month will celebrate its first anniversary.
“I am chuffed with the progress we are making,” Ramokgopa said on Sunday, referring to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement on July 25 2022 on the country’s five-point energy action plan designed to end load-shedding.
“With regard to outcome No 1, which is to reduce the intensity of load-shedding, we can give that one a tick. But when it comes to reducing the frequency, there is no tick, and we cannot be expected to do that any time soon,” Ramokgopa said, explaining it was not yet possible for the country to go a full 24 hours without state-implemented blackouts.
Speaking on Eskom’s performance for the past week, he said a reduced demand for electricity had enabled a ramping up of planned maintenance — initially envisioned to be scaled down in winter.
“We have consistently applied our strategy and due to the increased maintenance, we are just slightly shy of a best-case scenario.”
This had in turn led to less frequent equipment breakdowns and failures. The anticipated winter demand, predicted to be 34,000MW per day, had also not come about, with the highest demand being on July 3 when it hit 30,861MW.
“This is because of a combination of factors, one of them being your average South African doing things like switching off geysers and lights when they are not needed,” said Ramokgopa, describing these as good consumption habits that should become permanent.
Work was also being done to increase energy supply on the generation side. This was being done though:
- the funding of 25 new generating units to produce another 12,000MW by 2028;
- the liberalisation of the general pipeline that will see another 10MW project coming on stream;
- the releasing of Eskom-owned land “to the private sector for generation”; and
- a reduction in contract processing times in the need for onerous and expensive environment impact assessment reports in areas classified as low-to-moderately environmentally sensitive.
“We are also able to draw electricity from our neighbouring countries, and our battery storage programme is complete. The next bid window (later this month) will see us securing 1,200MW of battery storage capacity,” said Ramokgopa.
I don’t give dates. I give you the megawatts and it’s up to you to decideElectricity minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa
Reaffirming his resolve that load-shedding will “end sooner than expected”, he declined to give a time estimate.
“I don’t give dates. I give you the megawatts and it’s up to you to decide,” he said.
“The Karpowership docked in Maputo and is able to offer us immediately. I will be able to report back on that in a week.”
Speaking about South Africa’s own Karpowership plans, Ramokgopa said he had been having “conversations just this last week” focused on access and berthing of the ships and negotiations with Transnet on logistics.
“We will eventually get to the stage of reducing the period of the contract. We have made that proposal and we are waiting for a response to that, and when we receive it, I will be able to share that with the country,” he said when asked about the progress of negotiations to reduce the term of the Karpowership projects from 20 years.
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