Eskom’s grid expansion to be prioritised over the next 10 years: Ramokgopa

 ·24 Jul 2023

South Africa will prioritise the expansion of its grid over the next decade as it aims to finally put an end to daily power cuts, said Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa.

The government is working on about 25 projects in existing substations that could potentially unlock about 13 gigawatts of energy, he told reporters on Sunday (23 July).

“In the next 10 years, we think that it’s possible for us to be able to have an additional 24 gigawatt,” he said.

With solutions far in the future, though, South Africa’s power problems roll on. State-owned utility Eskom announced continued and various stages of load shedding for the week ahead.

Power breakdowns in Africa’s most industrialised nation have increased to 16,943MW of generating capacity, it said in a statement. “The grid remains vulnerable and susceptible to plummeting availability of megawatts,” Ramokgopa said.

New grid regulations and capacity are already an issue

A South African power-project developer is seeking to block new rules governing the connection of plants to the national electricity grid, saying they are flawed and will impair the addition of more generation capacity.

Despite Ramokgopa and Eskom’s expansion plans, the power utility is still struggling to meet electricity demand which is hobbling economic growth.

Private generation projects that could relieve pressure on the system have been sidelined, in part because of a lack of connections to the grid.

To alleviate that pressure, Eskom introduced its so-called Interim Grid Capacity Allocation Rules, but developer G7 Renewable Energies argued they would hinder new operations.

Eskom’s application of the IGCA rules “will determine applications for grid access in accordance with rules which have been adopted in a manner that is unlawful, unreasonable and irrational,” G7 Chief Executive Officer Kilian Hagemann said in a copy of a filed affidavit seen by Bloomberg.

The rules will also “compel applicants for access to undertake procedures which are onerous and prejudicial,” he said.

Eskom said it wasn’t immediately able to comment. In June, the utility said the rules would avoid “hogging” of grid capacity and ensure only so-called shovel-ready projects are allocated capacity.

The rules will impose greater costs on developers of new generation plants and their customers, the South African Independent Power Producers Association, a lobby group, said earlier this month.

G7 Renewable Energies is involved in two wind farms identified in the court papers that are not part of a government program to buy power from producers but will provide electricity to private customers. Such projects “will serve to reduce the burden on Eskom,” the company said.

Read: Push for nuclear over renewables in South Africa: report

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