Sun, 25 Oct 2020

S. African president vows to resolve energy crisis

29 Sep 2020, 02:18 GMT+10

CAPE TOWN, Sept. 28 (Xinhua) -- President Cyril Ramaphosa vowed on Monday to resolve South Africa's energy crisis by developing reliable, secure and affordable energy supplies.

For the government to grow the economy and attract investment, secure and sustainable energy supply is paramount, Ramaphosa said in his weekly presidential address.

For this purpose, the government is developing a program that will enable the development of more than 11,800 megawatts (MW) of additional power generation.

"This signals government's clear intention to move ahead with one of the key reforms that is needed to unlock the growth of the economy and attract much-needed investment," Ramaphosa said.

To give a sense of the scale of this development, Ramaphosa said South Africa currently has in the region of over 30,000 MW of electricity available on the national grid each day.

The president was speaking as the country is grappling with a worsening energy crisis which has led to constant rolling blackouts for years, particularly in recent months.

South Africa's energy security "is precarious and load shedding imposes very high costs on the economy," said Ramaphosa.

Coal-fired power stations are aging, vulnerable to breakdowns and incur significant maintenance costs, he added.

With respect to the impact of climate change, it is equally important that energy is sustainable and environmentally-sound, the president said.

South Africa has one of the most energy-intensive economies in the world and remains heavily dependent on fossil fuels, mainly coal. It's is also a water-stressed country and coal power generation consumes vast quantities of water.

It is therefore vital that South Africa significantly and speedily increase its electricity generation capacity, Ramaphosa said.

He said more energy will be procured from diverse sources, including solar, wind, gas, coal and storage.

While meeting South Africa's energy needs well into the future, this new capacity will also help meet international obligations to reduce carbon emissions, said the president.

Speaking of the government's plan to procure power from independent power producers (IPPs), Ramaphosa said the move will significantly increase investment in the sector, particularly in renewables and gas.

"This will attract greater investment in energy and create much needed jobs, and spur business development and localization," Ramaphosa said.

This electricity will be procured through a transparent tendering process that prioritizes competitiveness and cost-effectiveness, according to Ramaphosa.

Given that the energy supply is severely constrained at present, new generation projects that can be connected to the grid as soon as possible will be prioritized, he said.

Various procurement bidding windows will be opened soon for IPPs, said Ramaphosa.

This is in addition to the 2,000 MW of emergency power that is being urgently sought through the Risk Mitigation Procurement Program to meet the country's current energy shortfall, he said.

As part of the reform process and in an effort to facilitate electricity self-generation, the licensing requirement for self-generation projects less than 1 MW has been removed, according to Ramaphosa.

So far 156 self-generation facilities under 1 MW have been registered, with a total installed capacity of 72 MW.

As part of regulatory reforms, draft amendments to regulations that will enable municipalities in good standing to procure their own power from IPPs will soon be gazetted.

"As we begin the long and difficult recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, we can draw encouragement, confidence and hope from the measures we are taking now to address our immediate electricity challenges and secure our energy supply well into the future," Ramaphosa said.

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