Eskom CEO André de Ruyter has revealed that the utility is compiling a “consolidated proposal” on how to end the ongoing electricity crisis, including how to introduce much-needed new generation capacity in the shortest possible time.
The State-owned utility estimates the current shortfall to be between 4 000 MW and 6 000 MW and has argued that, unless addressed, Eskom will continue to have limited headroom to address serious maintenance backlogs across its breakdown-prone coal fleet.
De Ruyter, who has acknowledged that South Africans are tired of ongoing load-shedding, reported this week that Eskom was engaging with various local and international experts on the proposal, which will be delivered to both its shareholder department and the policy department once completed.
De Ruyter has previously outlined various short-term measures that could be pursued to address intensifying load-shedding, including:
- implementing a three-year standard offer to buy the 500 MW- to 600 MW-worth of surplus electricity believed to be available from private generators;
- amending contracts with existing renewable energy independent power producers (IPPs) to unlock a further 200 MW that is currently contractually disallowed from injection into the grid;
- facilitating IPP plant improvements to add additional capacity at existing facilities; and
- debottlenecking the evacuation infrastructure servicing those IPPs to potentially unlock a further 200 MW to 300 MW.
Eskom has also indicated its strong support for the cutting of the residual red tape standing in the way of more than 4 000 MW of distributed generation capacity that could be introduced as a result of a recent market reform allowing sub-100 MW projects to proceed without a licence.
The utility will also lease grid-accessible land in and around its Majuba and Tutuka power stations to facilitate an accelerated uptake of the 100 MW opportunity.
De Ruyter did not elaborate on the possible contents of the new proposal, but pointed to examples in other countries, such as Vietnam and India, where large amounts of new capacity was introduced in a short period of time following policy and regulatory changes.
“So it is possible to add significant capacity quite quickly,” he said.
“We are in the process of soliciting views and opinions with a view to putting forward a consolidated proposal to the policy department as well as our shareholder that can be used to resolve the electricity crisis.
“I believe that there are levers to be pulled and that these can be pulled quite effectively.
“But this is not something that is going to happen easily and certainly is not only within the purview of Eskom to make happen.
“We are in the hands of a policy environment that needs to be conducive and needs to enable the addition of that capacity.”