‘End of Load Shedding is in Sight’ – President Ramaphosa

The Battle Against Load Shedding

In his weekly newsletter, President Cyril Ramaphosa conveyed an optimistic message: the continuous suspension of load shedding suggests that the Energy Action Plan (EAP) unveiled in 2022 is yielding positive results.

Energy Action Plan in Motion

Back in July 2022, when South Africa’s energy problems were at their peak, President Ramaphosa introduced the EAP. Now, over a year later, the impact of this plan is becoming evident.

  • Key Milestone: As of Monday, the nation has experienced over a month and a half without load shedding.
  • Hopeful Signs: “It is too early to say that load shedding has been brought to an end. However, the sustained improvement in the performance of Eskom’s power stations – as well as the new generation capacity we have added to our energy system – gives us hope that the end of load shedding is in sight,” the President stated.

Five Pillars of the EAP

The EAP is built on five critical actions:

  1. Repair and Enhance: Fixing Eskom’s coal-fired power stations to boost existing supply.
  2. Private Investment: Enabling and accelerating private investment in generation capacity.
  3. New Capacity: Fast-tracking the procurement of new capacity from renewables, gas, and battery storage.
  4. Rooftop Solar: Encouraging businesses and households to invest in rooftop solar.
  5. Sector Transformation: Fundamentally transforming the electricity sector to ensure long-term energy security.

Visible Progress

The focused efforts on maintenance and restoration of several units are now paying off. Here’s how:

  • Unplanned Outages: Reduced by nine percent between April 2023 and March 2024, adding 4400MW to the national grid.
  • Energy Availability Factor (EAF): Increased to over 60% since April, up from 53% during the same period last year.
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Commendable Efforts

President Ramaphosa praised the leadership, management, and staff of Eskom, particularly the power station general managers and their teams. The National Energy Crisis Committee, coordinating the response across government, also received accolades for its vital role.

Expanding Generation Capacity

A significant factor in the improved performance is the addition of new generation capacity, largely from renewable sources.

  • Private Investment Surge: With the removal of the licensing threshold for new power generation projects, there’s now a pipeline of over 130 private energy projects, representing more than 22,500MW of new capacity.
  • Rooftop Solar Growth: Tax incentives and financing options for businesses and households have resulted in rooftop solar capacity reaching over 5000MW by November last year, more than doubling in just twelve months.
  • New Procurement: More bid windows have been released for new capacity from solar, wind, gas, and battery storage, with over 10,000MW currently in procurement through public programs.

Addressing Election-Related Speculations

Despite rumors, President Ramaphosa dismissed claims linking Eskom’s improved performance to the upcoming general elections on 29 May.

  • Election Myths: “Some people have claimed that the reduced load shedding is a political ploy ahead of the elections. Some have speculated that there is less load shedding because Eskom is using the diesel-fuelled peaking plants to ‘keep the lights on’ in the run-up to the elections,” he noted.
  • Countering Falsehoods: Ramaphosa clarified that Eskom is using these peaking plants at a much lower rate than in the past two years, with diesel expenditure last month being less than half of what it was in April 2023.
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Sustained Efforts and Future Goals

While acknowledging the progress, President Ramaphosa emphasized that the journey is not over.

  • Legislative Advances: The Electricity Regulation Amendment Bill, tabled in Parliament last year, aims to establish a competitive energy market in South Africa, encouraging investment and reducing electricity prices.
  • Transmission Expansion: Plans are underway to expand the transmission network, particularly to accommodate renewable energy in provinces like the Northern Cape, with over 14,000 km of new transmission lines to be built across the country.

A Call for Continued Vigilance

The President reminded citizens that while significant strides have been made, the risk of load shedding still looms.

  • Public Responsibility: “We must therefore all continue to play our part by using electricity sparingly and paying for the electricity that we use.”
  • Commitment to Progress: “What we can say for sure is that our plan is working. We are determined to stay the course and to continue this work until the energy crisis is brought to an end once and for all,” President Ramaphosa concluded.

With these concerted efforts, South Africa is gradually moving towards a future of reliable, affordable, and sustainable energy. – SAnews.gov.za

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