The end of load shedding is in sight but we are not out of the woods yet – South Africa’s President, Cyril Ramaphosa

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  • In his weekly newsletter, South Africa’s President, Cyril Ramaphosa, said that the sustained suspension of load shedding is a testament that the Energy Action Plan (EAP) announced in 2022 is working.

“As of today [Monday], the country will have had no load shedding for over a month and a half. This welcome development shows that the Energy Action Plan we announced in 2022 is working. It is too early to say that load shedding has been brought to an end. However, the sustained improvement in the performance of Eskom’s power stations – as well as the new generation capacity we have added to our energy system – gives us hope that the end of load shedding is in sight,” the President said.

“A renewed focus by Eskom on maintenance and the return to service of several units is now showing results. Losses due to unplanned outages have reduced by nine percent between April 2023 and March 2024, adding the equivalent of 4400MW of capacity to our national grid. “Better maintained and more reliable power stations have increased the country’s Energy Availability Factor (EAF), which is the amount of electricity available from our power stations at any given time. The EAF has been above 60% since April, compared to 53% over the same period last year.

Ramaphosa said that a key factor in improved performance is in adding new generation capacity mostly of renewable energy resources.

“Removing the licensing threshold for new power generation projects has led to significant private investment in the energy sector. There is now a pipeline of more than 130 private energy projects, representing over 22 500MW of new capacity, some of which are already starting to connect to the grid. As a result of the tax incentives and financing options we introduced for businesses and households, by November last year the capacity of rooftop solar had reached over 5000MW, more than doubling in just twelve months. This has helped to alleviate pressure on the national grid. More bid windows have been released for new capacity from solar, wind, gas and battery storage, with more than 10 000MW currently in procurement through public programmes,” said Ramaphosa.

He bemoaned and rejected reports that the current improved performance of Eskom is linked to the upcoming general elections to be held on 29 May.

“Yet, against all the available evidence, some people have claimed that the reduced load shedding is a political ploy ahead of the elections. Some have speculated that there is less load shedding because Eskom is using the diesel-fuelled peaking plants to ‘keep the lights on’ in the run-up to the elections. This is not borne out by the facts. Eskom is actually using these peaking plants at a much lower rate than the last two years. For example, last month Eskom spent more than half as much on diesel as it did in April 2023. Load shedding has been reduced due to a combination of all of these measures: fixing Eskom, unlocking private investment in energy generation, accelerating the procurement of new capacity and supporting rooftop solar.” said Ramaphosa.

Looking ahead

President Ramaphosa explained that while progress has been made in “the current crisis, we have also put our country on a clear path towards a reliable, affordable and sustainable supply of energy. The Electricity Regulation Amendment Bill, which we tabled in Parliament last year, will establish a competitive energy market in South Africa for the first time. This will encourage investment and bring down electricity prices. We are also expanding our transmission network to accommodate renewable energy in provinces like the Northern Cape, with a plan to build over 14 000 km of new transmission lines across the country,” he said.

Risk of loadshedding remains

The President said although much has been done, “we must be clear that we are not out of the woods yet”. He said that the risk of load shedding remains. “We must therefore all continue to play our part by using electricity sparingly and paying for the electricity that we use. What we can say for sure is that our plan is working. We are determined to stay the course and to continue this work until the energy crisis is brought to an end once and for all,” President Ramaphosa concluded.

Author: Bryan Groenendaal


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