Government continues investment in energy sector

Pretoria – Government says it will keep the development of the energy sector high on its priority list as this is key to easing constraints to economic growth.

The Economic Sectors, Employment and Infrastructure Development cluster, chaired by Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti, on Tuesday, briefed media to give an update on the implementation of the Nine Point Plan.

The plan, which was announced by President Jacob Zuma in the 2015 State of the Nation Address, aims to put the country on a sustainable growth path, where the energy challenge is resolved, among other goals.

In a statement, the cluster said progress has been made to stabilise electricity supply, which is a crucial resource to keep industry and business powered. Through the Eskom maintenance programme, the restoration of the Duvha unit, connection of the Medupi unit 6 and customers using electricity sparingly, there has been no load-shedding since September 2015.

Government has invested R83 billion in Eskom, which includes R60 billion that was converted from a guarantee to a grant. Moreover, R23 billion was secured from the sale of government’s Vodacom shares.

“This has enabled the utility to continue investing in Medupi and Kusile power stations,” said the cluster.

Through the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Programme (REIPPP), 6 376 MW of electricity have been procured. 2 045 MW from 41 IPPs are already operational.

The multiple bid windows of the REIPPP has attracted investment of R194 billion, while the procurement of 2 400 MW of new coal fired power generation capacity has been completed.

South Africa is also sourcing 2 600 MW of hydroelectric capacity from the Southern African Development Community region.

The Solar Water Heater programme, which focuses on load reduction, will continue. The load reduction programme aims to retrofit approximately 200 000 electric geysers with solar water heaters annually. This will reduce electricity demand in the high consumption residential sector.

“… We will provide skills to emerging companies and local communities to participate in various aspects of the solar water heater roll-out programme that is targeting to install 38 000 units in the 2016/17 financial year,” said the cluster.

Skills development

A pilot programme, which will see 300 learners being trained to install and maintain solar geysers, has been initiated in Ekurhuleni. A further R36 million has been set aside to provide training to other beneficiaries in other municipalities.

The National Skills Fund (NSF) has disbursed R96 million towards developing renewable energy training facilities at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology.

This initiative seeks to respond to the country’s adopted strategy to promote renewable energy production in order to supplement the current fossil fuel energy production.

NSF has also set aside R204 million towards establishing work integrated learning facilities for engineering students. The project aims to provide on-the-job training for mechanical and electrical engineering students in order to obtain registration as engineers.

Nuclear programme

The cluster said the expansion of the nuclear programme remains part of South Africa’s future energy mix.

“The procurement plan for 9 600 MW nuclear build programme will be implemented in the next decade at a pace informed by what the country can afford,” said the cluster. –