Environment conducive for alternative power sources: Mabuza

Thursday, October 20, 2022

Deputy President David Mabuza assured Parliamentarians on Thursday that government has created a regulatory environment that is conducive to opening up the market for alternative power generation.

“For instance, regulatory authorities have relaxed the licensing threshold for generation projects from 1 MW to 100 MW.

“This means that power plants with a capacity of less than 100 MW can supply electricity to a wide range of users, like businesses and homes,” the Deputy President said.

He was responding to oral questions in the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) relating to the work of government in the sixth administration.

Questions posed to the Deputy President by members of political parties represented in Parliament covered progress made in improving Eskom’s plant performance and measures taken to ensure the protection of infrastructure and resolutions of the Communal Land Summit.

He said government has been working with the energy sector to remove a cap on private generators, increase the number of requests for proposals issued to the private sector and contract for more megawatts from existing independent power producers (IPPs).

“The renewable energy programme has connected about 2 000 MW of solar and wind energy to the national grid, courtesy of Bid Window 4. The Bid Window 5 will contribute over 2 600 MW by 2024. The Bid Window 6 will procure some 5 200 MW of wind and solar energy.”

Updated regulations, according to Mabuza, allow municipalities to procure power independently.

“Eskom would also buy surplus power from existing producers like mines, factories, malls, and other private generators. Eskom will also import additional power from neighbouring countries.”

In the meantime, he said Eskom is aggressively maintaining its power station fleet.

“Maintenance budgets have increased to improve operational reliability, and bureaucratic guidelines have been relaxed. This should lessen Eskom’s difficulties in purchasing the necessary equipment and services.”

Mabuza told the NCOP that the State-owned power entity is embarking on a significant recruitment drive to employ highly competent technicians, including former plant managers and engineers.

“Eskom has recognised that the ‘ground zero’ of its operations is at the plant level.”

Clean energy 

Eskom has proposed adding 8 000 MW of clean energy projects to the grid over the next two to five years as part of its Just Energy Transition (JET) strategy.

“This is a mix of greenfield renewables and gas projects, as well as coal power plant repurposing,” Mabuza said.

He assured the NCOP that government is considering various changes that will speed up the acquisition of IPPs and further reduce red tape.

To address energy demands, Mabuza said, Eskom has proposed building 8 000 kilometres of transmission lines over 10 years.

Mabuza said the appointment of the new Eskom board will “ensure that as a country, we attain the target of improving Eskom’s energy availability factor from the currently undesirable levels that are below 60% to a stable level of 75%”. 

Protecting infrastructure

He said Eskom has adopted an integrated security approach, in partnership with law enforcement agencies, to address criminal activities relating to critical infrastructure that enables the organisation to function.

Work to protect critical infrastructure has not been limited to Eskom, said Mabuza.

“We are taking lessons from our response to Eskom and replicating it across other critical infrastructure. This fits with making sure all of our efforts to grow the economy are long-lasting.”

Eskom, according to Mabuza, has analysed all national key point sites and is installing smart technologies at generation power stations.

“Helicopters and drones are utilised in isolated areas where criminal networks still target infrastructure.”


On the Communal Land Administration and Tenure Reform Summit Resolutions, Mabuza said these include making laws about communal land ownership that define the different ways people can own land in both rural and urban areas.

“The other recommendation was on the introduction of legislation and other measures to protect communal land from being bonded, alienated, lost, or sequestrated by financial institutions and any other developers.”

These outcomes, the Deputy President said, also brought to light different points of view and new issues that will need more attention when policies and laws are made about land administration and tenure reforms in communal areas. – SAnews.gov.za