The South African government has published a ‘roadmap to end load shedding’ based on president Cyril Rampahosa’s “energy action plan”.
The plan was first announced by Ramaophosa in July 2022. However, it has become a matter of urgency in recent weeks after power utility Eskom was forced to implement high-stage load shedding since the start of the year.
Following a meeting with the National Energy Crisis Committee in January, the president and government departments have established five key interventions that are now the key focus of the plan.
- Fix Eskom and improve the availability of the existing electricity supply
- Enable and accelerate private investment in generation capacity
- Accelerate procurement of new capacity from renewables, gas and battery storage
- Unleash businesses and households to invest in rooftop solar
- Fundamentally transform the electricity sector.
According to the national government, the short-term plan is to reduce the severity and frequency of load shedding, while the long-term goal is to end load shedding altogether and achieve energy security. This needs to happen as quickly as possible, it said.
To date, the government said that certain achievements have already been realised, including:
- Removing the licencing requirements for generation projects of any size
- A new ministerial determination for over 18,000MW of new generation from wind, solar and battery storage has been published
- Over 100 private sector projects, totalling more than 9,000MW, are in the pipeline
- 25 projects from bid windows 5 and 6, totalling 2,800MW, have been signed
- 300MW of power has been imported from neighbouring countries
- Eskom is purchasing 1,000MW from private companies
- Various other actions have been completed, such as reducing timeframes from registration, authorisation and connection related to energy projects.
As part of the project, the government has published a roadmap to end load shedding.
In 2023, South Africa is expected to ramp up its imports of power from neighbouring countries to 1,625MW, while its emergency procurement from private producers should climb to 1,350MW. Combined, this would cover at least three stages of load shedding.
Embedded projects that come online this year should see 1,600MW added to the grid, while rooftop solar from businesses and households should add another 850MW.
Comments from the government and various departments, based on this roadmap, are that South Africa should be able to curb load shedding over the next 12 to 18 months if all these projects go well.
Meanwhile, work is expected to continue bringing Eskom’s Kusile units back online.
Ramaphosa has put great emphasis on the rooftop solar aspect of the plan, with Eskom having already submitted a net metering tariff for residential customers to energy regulator Nersa for approval.
Work is also underway to develop a net billing framework for municipalities to enable customers to feed electricity from rooftop solar installations onto the grid.
The City of Cape Town already has a head-start with the plan, having recently announced that it will be buying electricity from commercial solar installations from June 2023, with plans to apply the same to residential customers from 2024.
The push for solar comes off a big year for the energy source in South Africa, with research from PwC showing that over R5 billion worth of panels were imported in 2022.
“We estimate that these panels provide an additional 2 000 MW of generating capacity during 2023. Based on varying usage patterns, these off-grid solar panels could be saving the rest of the country from an additional stage of load-shedding at any given time,” PwC said.
Ramaphosa is expected to detail more about the government’s plans to push rooftop solar in the coming weeks.