South Africa’s Electricity Minister explains agreements with China and focus on Tutuka turnaround

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  • Minister in the Presidency for Electricity, Dr Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, has emphasised that the agreements signed in the past week with Chinese state owned entities and the donation by the People’s Republic of China, are to address this country’s emergency energy solutions.
  • He also explained that they are concentrating on turning the troubled Tutuka Power Station around to reduce the levels of loadshedding (blackouts).  

South Africa concluded a significant amount of agreements with Chinese state owned entities (SOEs) with the signing of two overarching memoranda that were witnessed by President Cyril Ramaphosa and President Xi Jinping. Read more

Addressing the media on the Energy Action Plan yesterday, Ramokgopa explained that the two agreements include amongst others, addressing issues of green energy solutions, exploitations of renewable energy sources and the use of modern technology.

“The two agreements – the first one addresses issues around green energy solutions- the partnership agreement we will be entering in relation to the exploitation of renewable energy sources in our country; the use of modern technology and the degree to which we are able to connect renewable energy onto the grid.

“The rationale for entering with the Chinese in this regard is because they are a dominant player on the renewable energy space. They have 688 gigawatts of installed capacity of renewables, a combination of PV and wind. They have done one of the biggest expansions of transmission and they have also worked on the kind of transmission modernisation required to be able to accommodate the intermittency of renewable sources,” the Minister said.

In regards to the donation by the People’s Republic of China, the Minister said this is aimed at addressing South Africa’s emergency energy solutions, which is targeted at key public facilities such as police stations, health institutions and correctional centres.

Minister Ramokgopa emphasised that provincial departments will play a role in identifying the key public areas.

“The second one, was an exchange of letters in relation to a donation that we are receiving from the People’s Republic of China that is meant to help us in addressing the emergency energy solution in the country.

“I did indicate that it’s likely going to be targeted in key public facilities such as hospitals, clinics, correctional services, and police stations. In this regard, we will be working with the nine provincial governments for them to be able to identify sites that are suitable for this.

“We already have a technical capacity that is supporting us in relation to the appropriateness of the technology solutions that are given to us and those that have been agreed upfront,” he said.

Ramokgopa further announced that the first shipment of the technology solutions by China is en route and an announcement will be made when it arrives in the country, having left Chinese shores on 14 August.

“We will announce at the right time when the first shipment lands and give an indication of the first public facilities that will benefit from this generous donation.”

Turning to the performance of the system for the past week, the Minister said that the available capacity has come down.

“I did indicate that we are beginning to normalise being above 28 000 megawatts on average. We have kept close to that most of the week and the average is about 27 561 megawatts,” he said.

“We did indicate that we were going to slow down planned outages and once we get out of a very difficult winter we are going to ramp up because we need to protect these machines, generation and units to ensure their sustainability and reliability going into the future. We still remain above 15 000 megawatts in relation to unplanned capacity lost factor. I made a point that we want to bring it down,” the Minister said.

The station has six 609MW units with a total installed capacity of 3,654MW with turbine Maximum Continuous Rating at 38.00%. Tutuka is an important link in the 765kV extra-high-voltage transmission system linking Mpumalanga with the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. Image credit: Pride De Lange

The Minister also said that he is confident that two units at Tutuka power station will come back onstream next month. “Tutuka has not reached its own target EAF of 49% for the financial year, and was facing long-term outages. The unplanned capacity loss factor had surged 74% against a target of 32%,” explained Ramakgopa. Bringing two units online would effectively add around 1200MW capacity to the grid.

To this end “Eskom has installed one of thier most experienced engineers – Bruce Moyo” added Ramakgopa. The power station is one of worst performing in Eskom’s fleet as a result of widespread mismanagement, theft, sabotage, vandalism and corruption. Read more

Related news: EDF to develop 1500MW solar to hydrogen facility at Tatuka site

Ramakgopa added that improving Tutuka’s performance could relieve at least two stages of load shedding “There is about 2500 MW locked into Tutuka. That enables us to deliver a significant dent on load shedding – about two stages. The team is doing everything possible to address this situation,” he said.

Author: Bryan Groenendaal


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