Minister of Electricity Kgosientsho Ramokgopa has called for government to work on expanding the transmission lines to be able to meet the demands of more renewable projects in the pipeline.
He said they will need about R210 billion to expand the grid and in the last 10 years Eskom has increased the lines by 4 500km.
In the next 10 years the lines will have to be extended by 14 000km but that will require more than R210bn.
But the balance sheet of Eskom was not in a state where it could be able to fund such a massive expansion of the transmission lines across the country.
However, other sources of funding would have to come into play to help in extending the grid.
Ramokgopa, who was briefing the media on Saturday with other members of the ANC National Executive Committee, said the issue of grid expansion was important.
He said they have done well in the past three weeks where there were now lower stages of load shedding.
This was due to the fact that the energy availability factor has improved from 48% a few weeks ago to over 60% now.
More units at Kusile and other power stations will be brought online before the end of the year and that will add more megawatts to the grid.
But Ramokgopa said he was concerned about the fact that they need to start extending the transmission lines.
They will need financing to do that.
“The computation that has been done is that we need upwards of R210bn for us to do issues of grid expansion and grid strengthening. It is an area that requires attention. The expansion and strengthening of the grid is important. That is why we have a conversation in the country by the private sector players of accusations of other projects that are hogging grid capacity. They have been given the licence to access the grid but their projects have not matured. And there are projects that have matured, but can’t access grid capacity because they say the capacity has been exhausted and it’s sitting with the people who are not able to access that,” said Ramokgopa.
In order to deal with the problem Eskom has come up with grid access rules.
Ramokgopa said on the financing of the expansion of the grid they must not give up ownership of the grid to other players in that market.
He said the state must be in control of the grid at all times.
They will go to the private sector to seek financing for grid expansion, but will not give up ownership of it.