Eskom has welcomed the amendments to section 2 of the Electricity Regulation Act, which it says will assist in creating a stable electricity supply for South Africa.
Mineral resources and energy minister Gwede Mantashe gazetted the amendments on Thursday (12 August), allowing individuals and businesses to install up to 100MW of private power generation without a licence.
The cumbersome and costly licencing process for self-generation is seen as a major deterrent to bringing much-needed additional generation capacity onto the national grid.
Firms will also be allowed to sell any excess power generated back into the grid.
“This is a progressive step that will – over time – greatly assist in the effort to provide reliable and sufficient electricity for the economy while creating space for Eskom to conduct much-needed repairs on its infrastructure,” the power utility said.
“As Eskom continues implementing the reliability maintenance recovery (RMR) programme to achieve operational sustainability, many electricity units are taken offline for planned maintenance which leaves the national power system constrained.”
Eskom said that customer-funded capacity, alongside the contribution by independent power producers (IPPs), will greatly assist in addressing the immediate supply/demand gap and reduce and reduce the risk of load shedding over time.
“This amendment, together with Eskom’s own efforts to repurpose and repower our ageing power stations, will assist in reducing South Africa’s electricity supply gap.”
Data published by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) this week shows that the country has spent a significant amount of 2021 in the dark.
The report shows that South Africa experienced 650 hours of load shedding in the first half of the year – the equivalent of 27 full days.
By comparison, 2020 is currently the worst year of load shedding on record, with 859 hours lost over a 12 month period. 2021 has already seen 76% of the load shedding experienced in 2020.
In the first half of 2021, load shedding occurred each month, dominated by Stage 2, with most of the power cuts happening across March and June.