Picture: Karen Sandison/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Durban - As Eskom’s woes continue to deepen AgriSA says it has the solution to ensure the lights in homes are kept on within a year, if its 500 applications for solar generation plants are given the green light by Eskom and the energy regulator.

Eskom this week plunged the country into darkness with rolling blackouts.

However, agricultural organisation AgriSA says it can circumvent the power utility’s troubles by opening up to 500 solar generation plants that have the potential to contribute 1400MW to relieve strain on the grid.

Nicol Jansen, AgriSA chairperson at the economics and trade centre of excellence, said more than 500 farmers wanted to put up solar plants on their farms, but had already applied to Eskom and the National Energy Regulator of SA (Nersa) to establish the plants.

“This will give us an amount of 1400MW and that alone prevents stage 1 load shedding, and if the commercial banks are willing to take these solar plants for security, then more people can gain access to capital and we can double the figures that can prevent stage 3 load shedding for the entire country,” Jansen said.

He said all that was needed was for Eskom and Nersa to speedily regulate the process, because the first stage could be implemented within six months and the next stage in two years, and the availability of that amount of energy could help the country’s economy.

He said the solar plants had a 25 to 30-year guarantee from the suppliers, meaning it was a long-term investment and it would help the ordinary South African by lowering the probability of load shedding and save the economy the losses it suffers because of it.

“The solar plants cost between R1million to R20m, so it’s a lot of money and big investment in solar reproduction, but the agriculture sector is willing to do that and the whole of the country can benefit from the additional generating that will be available to the grid,” said Jansen.

He said AgriSA would be engaging Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan and Energy Minister Jeff Radebe on their proposals.

The National Union of Mineworkers slammed President Cyril Ramaphosa’s handling of the crisis.

“The current load shedding is a diversion from the real issue troubling Eskom. Its purpose is to undermine the workers, collapse the economy and ultimately dislodge the ANC from governance while co-opting certain leaders through lucrative business deals.

“The reports we received from members on the ground is that the monies meant for maintenance of the plant is held back and prioritised for frivolous projects that are lined up to ensure that unbundling (of Eskom) is initiated smoothly,” it said

Political Bureau