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South Africa sets sight on renewable energy

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South African president Cyril Ramaphosa has acknowledged that the country still depends heavily on fossil fuels as opposed to renewable energy in a country that he said was one of the most energy-intensive economies in the world.

But he also observed that the country was diversifying its energy mix with the increasing inclusion of renewable energy sources while relinquishing coal.

Addressing the nation through his weekly newsletter Mr Ramaphosa noted that the country was now focusing on sustainable energy.

“Reliable, secure and affordable energy supply is the lifeblood of any economy. To limit the impact of climate change, it is equally important that energy is sustainable and environmentally-sound.

Mr Ramaphosa said that coal power generation consumes vast quantities of water hence unsustainable for a county that is crippling with water scarcity.

“As government we have decided that to grow our economy and attract investment, secure and sustainable energy supply is paramount,” he explained.

“When we have load shedding everything just goes wrong in our lives at home, in our work environment and practically in every facet of our lives.”

He said that the government was on course to develop more than 11,800 megawatts (MW) of additional power generation. To give a sense of the scale of this development, South Africa currently has in the region of over 30,000 MW of electricity available on the national grid each day.

This new energy will be procured from diverse sources, including solar, wind, gas, coal and storage. While meeting our energy needs well into the future, this new capacity will also help us meet our international obligations to reduce carbon emissions.

Priority will be given to new generation projects that can be connected to the grid as soon as possible will be . The next step will be to initiate various procurement bidding windows including opening Bid Window 5 of the renewable energy independent power producer programme.

This is in addition to the 2,000 MW of emergency power that is being urgently sought through the Risk Mitigation Procurement Programme to meet the country’s current energy shortfall.

Mr Ramaphosa also said that in an effort to facilitate electricity self-generation and as part of the reform process, we have removed the licensing requirement for self-generation projects under 1 MW.  So far 156 self-generation facilities under 1 MW have been registered, with a total installed capacity of 72 MW.

He also shed light on the reform work at the state owned utility Eskom.

“We are working to restore Eskom’s operational capabilities and restructure Eskom to fundamentally change the way in which we generate and transmit electricity in our country. Our vision is to lead South Africa though a just transition which ensures that as many people as possible benefit from the investment, growth and job-creation that we can achieve through expanding our electricity generation capacity.”

He added,”We are making progress in overcoming the challenges that Eskom has been facing over a number of years. As part of the necessary restructuring process, separate governance structures in the form of boards have been appointed for the power utility’s generation, transmission and distribution divisions, as we announced at the State of the Nation Address. Improvements are continuing in municipal debt collection. Despite recent challenges we have faced with load shedding, maintenance work is continuing at power stations.”

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