During a state of the nation address last evening, South African president Cyril Ramaphosa outlined a new set of plans in the hopes of addressing South Africa’s ongoing energy crisis, which has led to widespread blackouts affecting the nation and has cost the national GDP billions.
“There can no longer be any excuses that anyone can offer,” Ramaphosa said.
Watch the address below (Begins at 7:45):
In his address, Ramaphosa set forth a two-pronged approach to solving the country’s electricity production woes:
- Urgently find the capacity to meet the current power shortfall and limit load shedding occurring in the country immediately.
- Urgently find and source new generation capacity for the long-term in order to end load shedding once and for all.
President Ramaphosa also said that load shedding at the levels currently experienced in South Africa is a major deterrent for investment in the country and has caused significant economical damage. This year’s recent month-long bout of Stage 6 load shedding, where many regions of South Africa were without power for nearly 10 hours out of the day, reportedly cost the economy R4-billion ($235-million) every day it was implemented.
Here are the 8 planned interventions the President announced in the hopes of ending load shedding:
- Increase the recruitment of “skilled workers” at South Africa’s embattled energy utility Eskom and use the opportunity to address the widespread sabotage at Eskom’s power stations.
- Improve resource logistics to ensure that the country’s energy-generating diesel-powered turbines are supplied quickly and efficiently.
- Allow Eskom to buy additional power from private power producers.
- Import more power from neighbouring African countries.
- Launch a new programme that will incentivise people and organisations to use power more efficiently in the hopes of cutting the power demand by 600 megawatts.
- Removing some of the red tape (local content requirements) so that renewable-power projects in “Bid Window 5” can add power to the country’s grid.
- Increasing the size of “Bid Window 6” and pushing for more bidding rounds so more renewables can win bids and join the grid.
- Announce a plan to eliminate Eskom’s debt before October.
The President said that these steps will allow the risk of load shedding to be reduced significantly, and limit the need for more severe levels of load shedding in the near future. He added that new energy projects need to be brought online in order for the country to leave load shedding behind.
He said government will seek to source new solar and wind projects in order to double the current renewable generation level from 2,600MW to 5,200MW. There will also be a new bid window opening to add battery and gas power to the grid, all in an expedited basis.
Also, in a coup for private investors, Ramaphosa said that government would be removing the licensing threshold for embedded power generation, raising the threshold from 1MW to 100MW.
He said that while some red tape has been removed, all new generation projects will need to be registered by the government and must adhere to several environmental regulations.
Several media have pointed out that this is not the first time Ramaphosa has announced plans to end load shedding. The President has claimed to be urgently seeking measures to end load shedding and the power crisis since 2015.
Some critics have said that this is simply another way to appease South Africans and none of the proposed plans will actually be executed in a timely fashion.
While the President promises proposals, some organisations such as the Democratic Alliance-led government in the Western Cape province in South Africa have successfully reduced the impact of load shedding in the city of Cape Town.
The Mayor of Cape Town, Geordin Hill-Lewis has removed several restrictions in efforts to add 300MW of renewable energy to the city’s grid. The city is also looking to pay businesses “actual cash” for power in efforts to make Cape Town a load-shedding-free zone.