Mineral Resources and Energy minister Gwede Mantashe has published new embedded generation regulations for public comment, in a move that is expected to help limit the impact of load shedding.
The gazette effectively raises the threshold for embedded generation from 1MW to 10MW, providing businesses and private individuals more room to build their own electricity supply away from Eskom’s grid.
However, the gazette includes the proviso that private groups who plan to use this embedded generation will have to register with National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA).
President Cyril Ramaphosa previously announced that government would look at increasing the embedded generation limit in his February 2021 state of the nation address.
“Recent analysis suggests that easing the licensing requirements for new embedded generation projects could unlock up to 5,000 MW of additional capacity and help to ease the impact of load shedding,” he said.
“We will therefore amend Schedule 2 of the Electricity Regulation Act, 2006 (Act 4 of 2006) within the next three months to increase the licensing threshold for embedded generation.
“This will include consultation among key stakeholders on the level at which the new threshold should be set and the finalisation of the necessary enabling frameworks.”
A report published in March by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) shows that South Africa now spends more than 10% of the year load shedding, which has serious knock-on effects for business and consumers.
The report shows that 2020 saw 859 hours of load shedding – seemingly the most intense year of blackouts yet.
“In 2020, load shedding occurred for 859 hours of the year (9.8%) with an upper limit of 1,798 GWh relative to actually achieved energy shed of 1,269 GWh,” the CSIR said.
The most intensive load shedding was seen before the Covid-19 lockdown, which accounted for 63% of all load shedding seen in 2020. Most of this was stage 2 load shedding, the research body said.