Just minutes after President Cyril Ramaphosa ended his State of the Nation Address (Sona) in which he declared that the end of rolling blackouts was in sight, Eskom announced the implementation of stage 3 load shedding from 10pm on Thursday night “until further notice”.
“Due to the need to replenish the pumped storage dams, which are required to meet the morning and evening peak loads, and a generating unit that was taken offline for repairs over the past 24 hours, Stage 3 load shedding will be implemented,” the power utility said.
“Unplanned outages are at 15,958MW of generating capacity, while the capacity out of service for planned maintenance is at 6,771MW,” an Eskom statement said.
“Eskom Power Station General Managers and their teams will continue to work diligently to ensure that the 2,473MW of generating capacity is returned to service by Monday as planned.”
During his address, Ramaphosa unveiled an ambitious vision to tackle South Africa's energy crisis and foster sustainable growth.
The president talked up the government's commitment to stabilising the energy supply and improving the logistics system, which he believes are critical steps towards unlocking the full potential of South Africa's economy.
Under the spotlight was the administration's plan to end the debilitating load shedding that has plagued the country — with a record 332 days in 2023.
Ramaphosa said that through the National Energy Crisis Committee's efforts, substantial progress has been made, including the facilitation of private investment to bring new power onto the grid.
This initiative has already begun to alleviate the frequency of load shedding.
Highlighting last year's achievements, Ramaphosa mentioned the implementation of a significant debt relief package for Eskom.
This intervention is aimed at enabling the power utility to invest in maintenance and transmission infrastructure, ensuring its sustainability for the future.
A remarkable milestone in the country's pivot towards renewable energy was the connection of over 2,500 MW of solar and wind power to the national grid, a figure set to triple with ongoing procurement and construction.
Rampahosa said the government has also incentivised the installation of rooftop solar panels, doubling the capacity in just the past year.
Regulatory reforms have paved the way for more than 120 new private energy projects, signalling a major shift towards restructuring the electricity sector.
This move is expected to enhance competitiveness and reduce energy costs.
Confident in the strides made, Ramaphosa declared, “Through all of these actions, we are confident that the worst is behind us and the end of load shedding is finally within reach.”
However, the president assured that efforts would not cease there. A comprehensive reform of the energy system is underway to foster a competitive, sustainable, and reliable energy future for South Africa.
This includes the construction of over 14,000 km of new transmission lines to support renewable energy and the introduction of innovative investment models for private investment in transmission infrastructure.
Further legislative efforts include the tabling of the Electricity Regulation Amendment Bill, aimed at restructuring Eskom and fostering a competitive electricity market.
Addressing climate change and its impact on the economy, Ramaphosa outlined a vision for a just energy transition.
This initiative seeks to capitalise on South Africa's abundant solar, wind, and mineral resources to create jobs and promote industries such as green hydrogen, green steel, and electric vehicles.
Significant investments are being channelled into regions with optimal conditions for renewable energy production, like the Northern Cape, and plans are in place for establishing a Special Economic Zone in Boegoebaai port to boost green energy investments.
In addition to fostering green industries, the government is focusing on regions like Mpumalanga for the creation of new economic opportunities and sustainable jobs.
Financial commitments to the Just Energy Transition Investment Plan have surged from around R170 billion to nearly R240 billion.
To combat the adverse effects of global warming, which have led to floods, fires, and droughts, Ramaphosa announced the establishment of a Climate Change Response Fund.
This initiative aims to unify government and private sector efforts to build resilience and respond to climate change impacts effectively.
Through these comprehensive measures, South Africa aims to position itself as a leader in the global transition towards a sustainable, green economy, promising a brighter future for its citizens and the environment, Ramaphosa said.