Government mulls allowing energy generation for self-use

Monday, February 3, 2020

Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe says government is in the process of gazetting a revised schedule of the Electricity Regulation Act which will allow mining companies to generate their own energy for self-use.

Addressing the 26th Annual Investing in Africa Mining Indaba at the Cape Town International Convention Centre on Monday morning, Mantashe said this was one of the measures being considered to address electricity supply challenges.

This comes as the Eskom announced that Stage 2 rotational load shedding will be implemented until Thursday, due to a shortage of capacity. The power utility announced that unplanned outages or breakdowns stood at 11 346MW as at 06:10 on Monday morning.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced during the 2019 mining indaba that measures were being taken to address energy challenges.

“To this end, in October last year, we gazetted the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) – the country’s blueprint for long-term electricity generation options which provides for a diversified energy mix.

“Following concurrence by energy regulator, NERSA, we are in the process of gazetting a revised Schedule 2 of the Electricity Regulation Act which will enable self-generation and facilitate municipal generation options under ‘Distributed Generation’.

“This will help close the energy gap caused by deteriorating Eskom plant performance.

“Depending on the circumstances, the generation plant may only require registration and not licensing,” he said.

The Minister said the department issued a Request for information (RFI) in December 2019 to invite responses from the market on innovative potential solutions to deliver power generation to the grid as expeditiously as possible.

“We welcome all inputs from the market, these will give the department a sense of possible immediate generation options available in the next three to 12 months to fill the short to medium term gap,” he said.

Plans to replace diesel with hydro-fuel technology for mining trucks

Meanwhile, Mantashe said that together with Anglo Platinum the department – through its agency Mintek - is working on using hydro-fuel cells as an energy source for mining trucks with an aim of replacing diesel usage with hydro-fuel cell technology.

“This is a major and innovative project that will have a significant impact on low carbon emissions and cost effectiveness. It is also an example of good partnership between government and business.

“In addition to these initiatives, we are seeking solutions to network infrastructure challenges facing the mining sector, namely rail and port infrastructure, by engaging the Department of Public Enterprises,” he said. –