SA Intent on Energy Security Through Electricity Act Amendments – Ramaphosa

In his State of the Nation Address (SONA2022), President Cyril Ramaphosa called attention to energy security once again.

He spoke of Cabinet approving amendments to the Electricity Regulation Act for public comment and how the country will remain focused on the priorities identified in last year’s address.

The areas pinpointed will address delivering on an economic rebuild programme. These include:

  • overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic,
  • a massive rollout of infrastructure,
  • a substantial increase in local production,
  • an employment stimulus to create jobs and support livelihoods,
  • the rapid expansion of our energy generation capacity.
Calling special attention again to the energy sector, Ramphosa noted that due to the country’s ageing power stations, poor maintenance, policy missteps and the ruinous effects of state capture, there is a shortfall of around 4,000MW of electricity. However, he stressed: “During the past year, we have taken firm steps to bring additional generation capacity online as quickly as possible to close the shortfall.”

He went on to list several new energy generation projects that will come online but did not give an indication of the timeframe.

These energy-related projects include:

  • Over 500MW from the remaining projects in Bid Window 4 of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP), which are at advanced stages of construction.
  • 2,600MW from Bid Window 5 of the REIPPPP, for which the preferred bidders were announced last year.
  • Up to 800MW from risk mitigation power projects that are ready to proceed.
  • 2,600MW from Bid Window 6 of the REIPPPP, which will soon be opened.
  • 3,000MW of gas power and 500MW of battery storage, for which requests for proposals will be released later this year.
  • An estimated 4,000MW from embedded generation projects in the mining sector.
  • Approximately 1,400MW currently in the process of being secured by various municipalities. 
Energy security success pegged on amendment to the electricity act

Apart from closing the generation gap, the President alluded to implementing fundamental changes to the structure of the electricity sector. Specifically in the regulation of reform through amendments to the Electricity Regulation Act.

“To regulate all of these reforms, Cabinet yesterday [10 February] approved amendments to the Electricity Regulation Act for public comment”, he said.

The reforms include Eskom establishing a separate transmission subsidiary, which is on track to completing its unbundling by December 2022. “These far-reaching amendments will enable a competitive market for electricity generation and the establishment of an independent state-owned transmission company.”

Furthermore, the utility has continued with its intensive maintenance programme, to reverse many years of neglected maintenance and underperformance of existing plants, stated the President.

Hydrogen and electric vehicle market come into play

Looking to future-proof the economic growth of South Africa, Ramaphosa said: “Investments in electric vehicles and hydrogen will equip South Africa to meet the global clean energy future.”

Securing these markets will enable expansion of the country’s mining industry in strategic minerals that are crucial for renewable power, such as platinum, vanadium, cobalt, copper, manganese and lithium.

“We also have a unique opportunity in green hydrogen, given our world-class solar and wind resources and local technology and expertise,” he said, highlighting the successful Hydrogen SA strategy to make major strides in positioning South Africa as a global leader in this new market.

“This includes the development of a Hydrogen Society Roadmap for the next ten years as well as a Green Hydrogen Strategy for the Northern Cape, supporting the development of a green hydrogen pipeline worth around R270 billion,” said the President.

Author: Nicolette Pombo-van Zyl

Nicolette is the Editor of ESI Africa print journal, and the annual African Power & Energy Elites. She is passionate about placing African countries on the international stage and is driven by the motto “The only way to predict the future is to create it”. Join her in creating a sustainable future through articles and multimedia content.

This article was originally published on ESI Africa and is republished with permission with minor editorial changes.

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