Eskom calls for acceleration in procurement of more megawatts to add to generation capacity
JOHANNESBURG – Embattled power utility Eskom has called for an acceleration in the procurement of an additional 3 000 megawatts (MW) of generation capacity to help ease supply constraints as load shedding threatens to delay a rebound in the economy.
Eskom spokesperson Sikhonathi Mantshantsha said yesterday the utility had requested an additional 5 000MW to be procured externally in December, when the country experienced stage 6 load shedding.
Mantshantsha said the government needed to licence private investors to build generational capacity to give Eskom space to take down its power stations for servicing.
“That statement we made then still stands today, but now we are saying the process must be fast-tracked,” Mantshantsha said.
“In December, it was an emergency procurement, but now we are in September; no one has been allowed to generate any additional power. So we are wondering what kind of emergency procurement this is.”
Eskom has implemented load shedding due to the increasing demand for electricity as more businesses and industries have reopened since the lockdown was lowered to level 2.
On Monday, Eskom welcomed the Request for Proposals issued last month by the government to procure 2 000MW of power. The 2 000MW of additional power is forecast to start being connected to the national grid by December 2021.
Eskom chief executive André de Ruyter, however, emphasised the need urgently to accelerate the procurement of more electricity.
“Given the current supply constraints, this additional generation capacity is urgently required, and will be an important contribution towards ending load shedding and ensuring energy security for the country,” De Ruyter said.
Last week, the National Energy Regulator of South Africa approved a request by Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe for the procurement of 11 813MW of new electricity capacity from independent power producers. This will open up various bid windows, including bid window 5 of renewable energy.
The capacity has been determined as follows: 6 800MW to be generated from renewable energy sources (photovoltaic and wind), 513MW to be generated from storage, 3 000MW to be generated from gas, and 1 500MW from coal. In total, this will enable the development of an additional 11 813MW of power from 2022.
Old Mutual’s investment strategist Izak Odendaal said Eskom was not overstating the electricity supply challenges, as the demand for electricity was set to increase further.
Odendaal said the request understated fundamental problems facing the utility.
“The fact that we have known about this for 15 years and yet have not addressed it tells you that it’s a problem with political bottlenecks,” Odendaal said.
“What load shedding does is that it constrains the ability for the economy to recover. The quickest thing we can do now is to allow smaller companies to generate their own electricity.”