Nica Richards

By Nica Richards


SA is not an island – load shedding happens everywhere, says Mantashe

Mantashe said Europe was currently experiencing their own type of load shedding.

However dark the situation may seem, Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) Minister Gwede Mantashe said South Africans should be mindful of the fact that the “electricity crisis is a global phenomenon.”

Mantashe on Thursday signed three project agreements under Bid Window 5 of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP).

This is part of a last-minute bolstering of renewable energy to an ailing national power grid, in an effort by government to quell South Africa plummeting into a load shedding wormhole.

The three successful projects due to be launched are Coleskop Wind Power, San Kraal Wind Power and Phezukomoya Wind Power.

The REIPPPP was first launched in April last year, with the remaining 22 projects due to be signed off in October.

Bid Window 6 abruptly increased in capacity from 2 600MW to 4 200 MW on 9 September, which the DMRE said was “in response to the announcement by the President on 25 July 2022”.

Wind allocation increased to 3 200MW, and solar photovoltaic remains at 1 000MW.

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SA ‘not an island’

Mantashe said the mood of society was understandably upset with current load shedding stages changing and escalating at a moment’s notice.

“When you explain the crisis to society, South Africans see themselves as an island when the electricity crisis is a global phenomenon.”

He said Europe’s coal orders from South Africa have increased by 720%, and that they too were experiencing bouts of their own load shedding.

“But we have the responsibility to address it.”

Power cuts and energy rationing currently sweeping across Europe are owed to Russia restricting gas supplies to the region, Reuters reports.

This is a far cry from South Africa’s load shedding crisis, made up of a toxic mix of ailing coal plant infrastructure, sabotage, corruption and a lack of maintenance, among other broader issues.

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‘Green transition’

Mantashe reiterated his stance on scaling down coal systematically, emphasising that moving out of coal in a “reckless” manner would cause “disaster”.

He said Europe had accepted gas and nuclear as part of their “green transition”, and that South Africa could not be left behind and “just go for renewables”.

He said Eskom should also allow some existing coal-fired power stations to be repurposed to gas.

“The energy availability factor of renewables, coal and nuclear are not the same. Renewables are 30% at best, until a sustainable battery support system is found. Coal is at 70% plus, and nuclear at 80% plus, so that combination is what we need for our country to prosper.”

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Fixing load shedding

It was admitted that the process involved in signing off on the three projects for the REIPPPP did take long, but that this should make it easier for the remaining 22 projects in the pipeline.

“Given load shedding, we need this capacity, like, yesterday,” head of Independent Power Producers Office Tshifhiwa Bernard Magoro said during Thursday’s briefing.

“There is no need to delay any further.”

Mantashe said Eskom had 20 000MW “idling” that had not been decommissioned, and was not providing any energy.

“If we can improve and make Eskom operate optimally, we will not have load shedding. Let’s work on that while we bring in new capacity in renewables, gas and nuclear.”

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