KZN to establish war room to tackle electricity crisis

Friday, February 24, 2023

KwaZulu-Natal Premier, Nomusa Dube-Ncube, says the province is establishing an Energy War Room to deal with the electricity crisis.

Delivering the State of the Province Address (SOPA) at the Oval Cricket Stadium in Pietermaritzburg on Friday, Dube-Ncube said after President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a state of emergency on the energy crisis, the province has taken immediate and decisive actions, as part of its contribution to the national effort to deal with the energy crisis.

Some of the province’s interventions highlighted by the Premier include the appointment of a panel of energy experts by end of March 2023, to coordinate and help accelerate the implementation of the KZN Energy Master Plan, and accelerating the rollout of rooftop solar panels to households in the province in line with the pronouncement by Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana.

The building standards will also be reviewed to ensure that new houses are fitted with energy saving equipment and the standard for RDP houses to be fitted with solar rooftops, and mobilising communities towards energy efficient systems, retrofitting light-emitting diode (LED) lights, using solar heaters and other energy saving devices.

Dube-Ncube said all government departments have been directed to devise plans for government buildings to save energy on a sustainable basis and for generating their own electricity.

“All departments and municipalities need to finalise registers of water infrastructure, hospitals, clinics, schools and other key assets that will be exempted from load-shedding. This includes an energy security plan by sector departments for facilities, which cannot be exempted from the grid.”

The province has also engaged mobile network operators to provide standby power to ensure critical continuous and connectivity during load shedding; developing an approach to coal for energy and exploiting value-chains to revive the economy and create jobs.

The province has further commenced with interventions in the use of alternative energy sources, including tapping into ocean energy, tidal wave, biogas, hydrogen and renewables.

R784m to extend electricity connections

The Premier also announced that a budget of R784 million has been made available for municipalities to extend planned electricity connections to 25 000 households through the Integrated National Electrification Programme (INEP) Grant from the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy.

“This will bring the electrification connection rate in KwaZulu-Natal to 93.89%. EThekwini Metro is at an advanced stage in implementing their own energy generation capacity with the first phase covering 400 Megawatts and increasing to 2000 Megawatts by 2030,” Dube-Ncube said.

She also noted that the abundance of sugarcane gives the province a competitive edge to become a leader in biofuels, especially in ethanol for blended energy solutions. 

She said the province will use the Richards Bay Industrial Development Zone (IDZ) to establish itself as an energy hub.

Among the list of projects that will be established include, Eskom 300 Mw Gas to Power Plant (R97billion); Mabasa Energy and Fuels (R10billion); Phakwe RBGP (R34billion); and NFE BGE Gas Supply (R25billion).

Battery energy storage systems 

In ensuring that the province plays a part in energy technology development, energy mix and battery storage implementation programme, the province is establishing its first energy storage facility under Eskom’s flagship Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) project, to be based in Elandskop BESS within Msunduzi and Impendle Local Municipalities.

“It is a partnership between Eskom and Hyosung Heavy Industries and will have the capacity to produce 8 Megawatts, equivalent to 32 Megawatts per hour of distributed electricity which is enough to power a small town for four hours.

“Tidal Energy- another innovation involves exploring Tidal Energy by looking at our Indian Ocean as a resource. This option uses tidal turbines to convert 80% of the energy of the tides to electricity, which is more effective than wind or solar energy systems,” the Premier highlighted.

She added that the province will next week hold a webinar with business and industry experts to commence the implementation of the energy security plan, and aims to emerge with a social compact on resolving the load-shedding crisis in the province. –