Government seeks proposals for 2 000 MW of emergency power as Eskom woes continue

Electricity pylons are seen near the cooling towers of a power station.

Electricity pylons are seen near the cooling towers of a power station owned by state power utility Eskom near Middelburg. File picture: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters

Published Aug 22, 2020


Cape Town - Government has issued a request for proposals to procure 2 000 megawatts of emergency power, a step needed to help plug a severe energy shortage, the department of energy said on Saturday.

State-owned power utility Eskom has been forced to cut power regularly, hobbling economic growth in Africa’s most industrialised country as unreliable coal-fired plants struggle to generate enough electricity to meet demand.

Scheduled blackouts, known as load shedding, have resumed as South Africa has eased strict lockdown restrictions to contain the new coronavirus and has re-opened power-hungry industries, such as mining, in a bid to kick-start a weak economy.

During load shedding, which is meant to protect the national power grid from complete collapse, residents and businesses are typically left without electricity for a couple of hours at a time.

In December, the government issued a request for information (RFI) to source between 2 000 and 3 000 megawatts (MW) of generation capacity to be connected in the shortest time, at the least cost.

"All power procured under this programme is expected to be fully operational by not later than the end of June 2022," the department said in Saturday's statement, adding it expected to attract around R40 billion of investment.

In February, Turkey’s Karpowership, one of the world’s largest suppliers of floating power plants, said it had submitted plans to provide "several" ships capable of alleviating the country's power shortages.

The department of energy said on Saturday that bidders would need to conform to South Africa's policies designed to broaden economic participation for the black majority and to make commitments to job creation and skills development.

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