Electricity Minister Warns of Impending Load Shedding Spike in South Africa

With South Africa’s winter approaching, Eskom is expecting an increase in energy demand, adding to the already frequent load shedding that is disrupting the country’s power supply. The Electricity Minister, Dr Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, has warned that the next 150 days will be “very difficult”. He said the expected demand increase for this energy-intensive season could range from 3 2000MW to 3 7000MW, meaning prescriptive action is needed to deliver some form of relief to ordinary citizens and businesses.

In his media briefing, Ramokgopa revealed that the government and Eskom were working on short-term measures, but warned of load shedding spikes that could range from Stage 1 to Stage 8. Eskom disclosed that short-term plans include maintenance to improve the energy availability factor. Plus, they’re working on bringing back units at different power stations as soon as possible. Units 1, 2, and 3 at Kusile are said to be back by December, equivalent to 2 100MW. The return of Medupi’s Unit 4 and Unit 1 at Koeberg will cover 980MW and 3 080MW respectively, dramatically reducing the equivalent capacity loss of load shedding stages 1 to 3.

Ramokgopa reaffirmed that Eskom is under severe pressure and can only oscillate between load shedding stages 4 and 6. However, Eskom and the government are undertaking adequate measures to combat load shedding. The Energy Action Plan unveiled by the President in July 2022 is one such measure that incorporates the Ministry’s energy-planning strategy. Eskom is collaborating with the private sector, and license requirements have been removed to provide extensive private investment in electricity generation. This has led to about 10,000 megawatts available for connection to the grid by the end of the year, with a combined 2 800MW available from already approved six projects.

Rooftop Solar Panels – A Promising Solution

Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana announced a tax incentive scheme for all households and businesses that install rooftop solar panels in his February budget speech. Those who install solar panels can claim a tax rebate of up to 25% of their installation and material costs, to a maximum of R15,000. While the country currently outsources most of the panels, the Ministry plans to boost the country’s manufacturing capacity and create employment. These incentives can significantly expand the industry’s industrial footprint, while also addressing unemployment issues nationwide.

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In conclusion, the government is working with Eskom to tackle what could be a long, challenging winter accelerated with heatwaves and overall increased energy demands. Minister Ramokgopa and Eskom have been working on measures to relieve the expected surge during the winter season, emphasizing short-term measures and severe maintenance practices to ensure that the energy availability factor is as promising as near pre-pandemic levels.

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