President unveils bold plan to tackle energy crisis

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Cape Town – President Jacob Zuma dedicated much of his State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Thursday evening, to reveal plans that are in motion to deal with the country’s electricity challenges.

Delivering the 2015 SONA at the National Assembly on Thursday night, the President unveiled a battle plan aimed at resolving short and long term energy challenges.

He delivered his speech as Eskom’s power grid remains constrained, with the power utility being forced to implement load shedding in recent times.

“We have developed a plan which involves short, medium term and long term responses.

“The short and medium term plan involves improved maintenance of Eskom power stations, enhancing the electricity generation capacity and managing the electricity demand.

“The long term plan involves finalising our long term energy security master plan.

“As a priority we are going to stabilise Eskom’s finances to enable the utility to manage the current period. In this regard, government will honour its commitment to give Eskom around R23 billion in the next fiscal year,” he said.

Energy constraints hinder economic growth and are also a major inconvenience to economic growth, the President said.

Government’s short medium energy plan

The President made a plea to all individuals, households, industries and government departments to play their part by saving electricity to avoid load shedding.

An instruction has been issued to all government-owned buildings, through the Department of Public Works, to be energy efficient.  

President Zuma said the short and medium term plan involved improving the maintenance of Eskom power stations, enhancing the electricity generation capacity and managing the electricity demand.

“Given the high cost of diesel, Eskom has been directed to switch from diesel to gas as a source of energy for the utility’s generators. Households are also being encouraged to switch from electricity to gas for cooking, heating and other uses,” he said.

He said the construction of three power stations – Kusile, Medupi and Ingula – will add 10 000 megawatts of power to the national grid.

The President said government was also pursuing alternative energy sources.

To date, government has procured 4 000 megawatts from Independent Power Producers (IPPs) using renewable sources.

“The first three bid windows of the renewable energy procurement process attracted more than R140 billion from private investors.

“A total of 3 900 megawatts of renewable energy has also been sourced, with 32 projects with a capacity of just over 1 500 megawatts completed and connected to the grid.

“Eskom itself has completed the construction of the Sere Wind Farm, which is already delivering 100 megawatts to the grid, well ahead of its intended launch in March this year,” he said.

Some of the measures taken to get additional power onto the grid include procuring 2 400 megawatts of new coal fired power generation capacity from IPPs in December last year.

The procurement process for 2 400 megawatts of new gas fired generation will commence in the first quarter of the new financial year (2015/16) and a total of 2 600 megawatts of hydro-electric capacity will be sourced from the SADC region.

President gives preview of the long-term energy plan

The President said government would pursue gas, petroleum, nuclear, hydropower and other sources as part of the energy mix.

He said South Africa was surrounded by gas rich countries, while shale gas deposits have been discovered in the Karoo region. 

“The Operation Phakisa Ocean Economy initiative, launched last year, also promises to unveil more oil and gas resources, which will be a game changer for our country and region.

“Government is also exploring the procurement of the 9 600 megawatts nuclear build programme as approved in the Integrated Resource Plan 2010-2030,” he said.

President Zuma said government has signed Inter-Governmental Agreements and carried out vendor parade workshops in which five countries came to present their proposals on nuclear power. This includes the United States of America, South Korea, Russia, France and China.

“All these countries will be engaged in a fair, transparent and competitive procurement process to select a strategic partner or partners to undertake the nuclear build programme.

“Our target is to connect the first unit to the grid by 2023, just in time for Eskom to retire part of its aging power plants.

“With regards to hydro power, the Grand Inga Hydro-electrical Project partnership with the Democratic Republic of Congo will generate over 48 000 megawatts of clean hydro-electricity.  South Africa will have access to over 15 000 megawatts,” President Zuma said. –