The measures being implemented today will in future ensure uninterrupted and secure energy supply for the country, says Lynne Brown.
Pretoria – South Africa is on a path to greater energy security that will in future ensure that all the country’s electricity needs are sufficiently met.
The energy challenges we experience are by no means a permanent situation. There are plans in place to ensure that over the long-term the demand for electricity is matched by supply.
However, in the short-term it means that we have to pull together to overcome the current strain that our power system is experiencing.
We have already seen a number of South Africans and corporates rising to the challenge and supporting the national grid through their energy-saving initiatives.
Government is also pleased that provinces and municipalities are working towards generating their own energy.
The Gauteng government plans to build a R7 billion solar plant that will supply 500 megawatts and create 15 000 jobs. The province will also generate an additional 1 200MW of electricity by increasing the capacity of its coal-fired power stations.
In addition, the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality will by August provide half of the metro’s power requirements when Coega’s Dedisa gas-fired power station comes on line.
Every effort will help the country navigate through these tumultuous times towards an energy secure future.
There is still more that can be done to save energy and reduce the occurrence of load shedding, which is not only an inconvenience affecting the daily activities of many South Africans, but also an impediment to economic growth.
To promote energy efficiency, the 2015 Budget has increased energy saving incentives from 45c/kWh to 85c/kWh as a reward for those who use electricity sparingly. At the same time heavy energy users will have to pay 2c/kWh more through a temporary increase in the electricity levy.
On the generation front we have recorded positive progress with the Majuba Power Station returning to full capacity during morning and evening peaks.
The testing of Medupi’s Unit 6 turbine – which will add a much needed 800MW to the power system – is progressing well. Eskom has indicated that the unit will provide its full load in July 2015.
When the Medupi Power Station is completed it will generate 4 764MW.
Government is confident that its analysis of the situation and the measures it is introducing will bring lasting relief in the foreseeable future.
President Jacob Zuma in his 2015 State of the Nation Address highlighted the Energy Master Plan to secure the nation’s energy supply in the long-term.
He said: “With regard to the long-term Energy Master Plan, we will pursue gas, petroleum, nuclear, hydro-power and other sources as part of the energy mix.”
In future renewable energy, a cleaner and more sustainable power source, will also be used to support the national grid.
The process to bring more renewable energy independent power producers on to the grid is being expedited. It is envisaged that an additional 1 100MW will result from the government’s third and fourth round of renewable energy procurement window.
We are working with the private sector and municipal power producers to increase energy supply to the national grid and are fast-tracking regulatory processes so that existing co-generation contracts are renewed.
The country will also tap into hydropower as an energy source by accessing 2 600MW of hydro-electric capacity from the Southern African Development Community.
Moreover, 15 000MW of hydro-electricity will be accessed from the Grand Inga project in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
Last year the cabinet ratified the treaty on the Grand Inga Hydropower Project between South Africa and the DRC which paves the way for the next phase of the hydroelectric project.
This exciting project has the potential to meet half of the continent’s power needs.
Going forward, government has identified a number of potential gas-to-power projects which include both new gas-fired power stations and conversion of diesel-fired power stations to gas.
In the first quarter of the new financial year government will begin the process to buy 2 400MW from new gasfired generation.
In the short-term, discussions are under way with neighbouring countries to import gas while over the longer term it will be supplied from the country’s own off-shore gas reserves and shale gas.
Through Operation Phakisa, oil and gas resources will become available as a result of offshore exploration.
In addition, shale gas deposits have been discovered in the Karoo which is a major game changer for the country.
In the long-term our energy security will be further strengthened by the completion of the three new power stations, Kusile, Medupi and Ingula, which will support the national grid with an additional 10 000MW.
We have also begun exploring a nuclear build programme as approved in the Integrated Resource Plan 2010-2030 to add 9 600MW to our capacity.
Our target is to connect the first unit to the grid by 2023 in time for Eskom to retire part of its ageing power plants.
Government is confident that the frustrations and inconveniences experienced from a shortage in electricity supply will become a distant memory.
The measures being implemented today as part of our energy security master plan will in future ensure uninterrupted and secure energy supply for the country.
* Lynne Brown is the Public Enterprises Minister.
* The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.