Government takes urgent steps to implement Energy Action Plan

Sunday, January 29, 2023

Government continues to implement the country’s Energy Action Plan in earnest, with the long-term goal of securing continuous, credible energy supply.

“As a country we must acknowledge that there is no immediate panacea to this crisis. However, citizens must note that work is underway to ensure full and effective implementation of the Energy Action Plan,” Minister in the Presidency, Mondli Gungubele, said on Sunday.

To respond to the severe impact of load shedding on households, small businesses and the economy as a whole, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a range of measures in July 2022 to improve the performance of existing power stations and add new generation capacity as quickly as possible.

The Energy Action Plan was developed through extensive consultation and endorsed by energy experts as providing the best and fastest path towards energy security.

While Government understands the frustration and the inconvenience that loadshedding is causing, it has reiterated that loadshedding is implemented only as a last resort in view of the shortage of generation capacity and the need to attend to breakdowns.

Government has assured citizens that work is underway to improve the performance of power stations to reduce stages of load shedding while driving work to bring more capacity onto the grid as quickly as possible.

According to the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS), progress has been made in several areas since the adoption of the Energy Action Plan.

These include the relaxation of some requirements, which will enable quicker procurement, and the removal of licensing requirements for generation projects to enable private investment.

“As part of rebuilding technical capacity in Eskom, 18 skilled specialists have been brought back into the utility, including three former power station managers who will assist at Kendal, Koeberg and Medupi.

“There have also been collaborative efforts with external stakeholders who have displayed willingness to assist Eskom. Additional focus is being placed on prioritising maintenance at the top six stations (Duvha, Kendal, Kusile, Majuba, Matla and Tutuka). These stations were specifically selected as they are amongst the highest contributors to unplanned load losses,” GCIS said.

There is also a process underway to establish a One Stop Shop, which will be a single entry point for energy projects through Invest SA.

A business case has been developed outlining resource and operational requirements.

Furthermore, timeframes have been significantly reduced for regulatory approvals in the areas of land-use authorisation, registration process, and embedded generation projects.

“These examples of interventions that are underway demonstrate the urgency that is being put into fixing the energy challenges. These cannot be implemented overnight; however, as a nation, we will overcome as we did with many challenges before this.

“The Action Plan addresses 10 focus areas which will result in improving people, plant and process performance. If we all play our part, even in small ways, we contribute towards the bigger goal of improving generation to at least 70% by the year 2025,” Gungubele said.

In an effort to both ease load shedding and ensure energy security into the future, South Africa will need to enable the construction of substantial new generating capacity.

“Some of this power will be bought by Eskom through the renewable energy programme, which has been expanded and accelerated. In the last six months, agreements have been signed with independent power producers for 26 projects, which together will generate around 2 800 MW,” the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) said in a statement.

Another major source of new generating capacity will be solar panels on the roofs of houses and businesses.

Work will soon be completed on a pricing structure that will allow customers to sell surplus electricity from rooftop solar panels into the grid. That way, they can meet their own power needs and help increase the amount of electricity on the grid.

“Like the COVID-19 pandemic, the current energy crisis raises the necessity for a societal response. All parts of society need to pull together and play our respective roles if we are to overcome the electricity crisis. The energy crisis we are facing is not unique to South Africa. There is currently a global energy crisis, and therefore we must work together to address the crisis,” the Minister said.

Meanwhile, government has welcomed 25 arrests that have been made recently in connection with sabotage, theft and fraud at Eskom.

“Crimes against the national grid often involve a combination of so-called insiders and criminal value chains involving private individuals or corrupt businesses. Organised crime is being confronted by our multi-agency approach,” GCIS said. –