Mantashe plays apartheid card on energy sector failures at SONA debate

  • Government has procured and connected more 7 000MW of generating capacity onto the grid through its Renewable Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP). 
  • This is according to Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe. 
  • The Minister was speaking during the debate on the State of the Nation Address (SONA) held in Cape Town on Tuesday.
  • South Africa is in a massive energy crisis where households and business’s face up to 10 hours of rotational blackouts daily. Read more 

“When consolidating the apartheid government, an apartheid master artisan, Hendrik Verwoerd said, “we are building a system with deep roots that no future government will ever undo. Many people who criticise our government, including some in this parliament, argue that we must have done everything within 30 years and never refer to the atrocities of the apartheid government. They conveniently forget that this country was colonised for 342 years, during which the apartheid government was in charge for 46 years,” said Mantashe.

The government-driven REIPPPP aims to bring much needed additional megawatts onto the grid through private sector investment in renewable energy such as wind, biomass and small hydro.

Mantashe said that since the programme’s launch in 2011, the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) has procured some 13 266MW from 140 Independent Power Producers (IPPs) whose technologies are based on renewable energy, diesel and battery energy storage.

“From these capacities, 7 362MW was from 95 IPPs, who are currently connected to the grid and supplying the much needed electricity. A combination of [renewables and base load]is required to deal with the challenges facing us.

The remaining 45 IPPs with a combined capacity of 5 904.7 MW are either in construction, preparing to reach commercial close or have failed to reach commercial close.

Under the 6th administration, 5 939 MW from 46 IPPs were procured resulting in:

  • 150 MW from 3 IPPs connected to the grid;
  • 1 587 MW from 15 IPPs currently under construction and expected to supply electricity to the grid from September 2024 onwards;
  • 1 360 MW from 10 IPPs are preparing to reach commercial close; and
  • 2 842 MW from 18 IPPs failing to reach commercial close.

In addition, the current administration has issued Requests for Proposals (RFPs) for the procurement of a combined 7 615 MW from Bid Window 7 of renewable energy, Bid Window 1 of gas-to-power, Bid Window 2 of battery energy storage. An additional 5 616 MW worth of RFPs for Bid Window 8 of renewable energy and the 3rd Bid Window of battery storage are planned to be issued by the end of the current financial year.

Following NERSA’s concurrence to the ministerial determination for the procurement of 2 500 MW of nuclear capacity, and the subsequent gazetting of this determination, government is finalising the procurement processes of this capacity.

All these efforts and many others are aimed at undoing the apartheid system against a drive by many in the opposition benches.

The reality is under Mantashe’s administration, the REIPPPP has failed to procure much needed new generation capacity in good time and lost much credibility. Many argue that the once globally revered programme has been grossly mismanaged since Mantashe was appointed energy minister in 2019.

Related news: REIPPPP in tatters while the energy crisis deepens – Mantashe must be held accountable

The Minister said South Africa has the potential to lead the way in the global energy transition.

“We firmly believe that South Africa holds significant quantities of minerals needed for the transition from high carbon emissions to low carbon emissions, which informs the view that our mining industry is a sunrise industry,” he said.

Link to Gwede Mantashe’s full speech HERE 

Author: Bryan Groenendaal

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