Transmission infrastructure can create competitive market

Thursday, September 7, 2017

The completion of electricity transmission infrastructure will create a more competitive market for members of the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP), Energy Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi said on Thursday.

Speaking at the opening of the 49th SAPP conference of meetings in Tshwane, the Minister said South Africa’s surplus electricity will be made available to the regional power pool, however, the issue of inadequate transmission infrastructure remains a hindrance.

“This capacity will be made available to the regional power pool so that member countries can utilise this capacity as their demand increases. We are aware that one of the constraints to the regional electricity trade is inadequate transmission infrastructure. It’s important for this reason that the projects underway be completed as speedily as possible,” Minister Kubayi told delegates attending the conference, hosted by power utility Eskom.

The SAPP, which has 12 member-countries represented by their respective electricity power utilities organised through the Southern African Development Community (SADC), coordinates the planning and operation of the electricity power system among member utilities.

The power pool provides a forum for regional solutions to electricity energy problems.

Some of the projects include the Zizabona interconnect project which will link Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana and Namibia as well as the establishment of the Namibia- Angola interconnector project.

“The completion of these projects will help create a more competitive market that will bring several advantages,” the Minister said.

Exploitation of diverse energy sources as well as better pricing are some of the advantages the region can expect when the projects are completed.

“A more competitive market will attract more investment, we want to see our economies growing. We need to work together,” said the Minister, adding that Eskom has moved into an era of energy surplus and would make the surplus available to the region.

“As South Africa we stand ready to provide resources at our disposal to ensure that all our regional partners are able to bring development to their countries and their people.”

South Africa through Eskom has increased its generation capacity through Independent Power Producers (IPPs) and the new build programme for Medupi and Kusile.

Minister Kubayi said lessons could be learnt from the country’s history of load shedding.

Eskom’s acting Chief Executive Officer: Eskom Enterprises Abram Masango said the utility is proud of its SAPP membership. He added that the utility is critical to the development of South Africa.

“It’s our view that this new era of surplus energy certainly needs to be used as a springboard for development. If sufficient transmission investment is made this electricity supply certainty can be spread across the region empowering all of our countries,” he said.

Electricity trading

Minister Kubayi said cooperation through electricity trading among member utilities in the region has for the first time in the last decade moved the region from a supply deficit to surplus.

“The figures show that by April this year the region has installed generation capacity of 59539 mw and operating capacity of 54397 mw against the demand and reserve of 53478 mw. This means there is access capacity of about 900 mw in the region. The trick for us is to say when we have this excess do we have areas where there is a deficit and how do we utilise it?”

Access to energy in the region is estimated to be around 45 % while the electricity demand in the region increased by an average of 2.6 % last year.

It’s also estimated that only 34%of the planned trading was achieved on account of limited transmission and inter-connector capacity.

“This is an indication that more still needs to be done in the region. The past few years have been challenging for the region as we struggled to overcome the energy supply deficit that was affecting our economies negatively. Without a sustainable and available supply of electricity, investors take their resources elsewhere to other regions with more reliable power supply which becomes a threat to our economies and people,” said the Minister. –


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