Energy crisis being addressed, but implementation is slow, admits DMRE DG

3rd November 2023 By: Irma Venter - Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

One of the biggest positive developments over the last 12 months has been the “convergence of ideas on what we need to do to resolve the energy crisis”, said Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) director-general Jacob Mbele.

“We come from a period where people were pushing for certain technologies, but there is now almost general consensus around the fact that we first have to fix what we have to ensure that we have energy security.”

Mbele, who spoke at African Energy Week 2023, held in Cape Town late last month, said there was also growing consensus on the idea that no single technology would address South Africa’s energy needs, but that it would have to be a mix of technologies.

He added that government had made steady progress on a number of projects to address the energy crisis, which has seen energy demand outstrip supply by a significant margin for years.

“If you look at the initial programme of risk mitigation intended to procure 2 000 MW of power, about 700 MW in agreements are signed, and the first 150 MW is expected to reach commercial operation in the next few months. For me that is progress.”

Mbele said the DMRE had already put out renewable-energy bid windows five and six, “and we have seen those projects progress over the last six months”.

“As we sit here, there are about 140 00 MW of renewables that we intend to procure in addition to bid windows five and six, through bid windows seven and eight.”

The bid windows of the renewables programme seek to add capacity to Eskom’s available power through the procurement of renewable energy from the private sector.

“We have also issued the first battery storage tender that is being evaluated. The results will be coming out in the next few weeks,” said Mbele.

“As you can see, there are a lot of things happening to resolve the energy crisis.”

However, it was not all good news, admitted Mbele.

“What is keeping me awake at night is that we are not moving and implementing at the speed that is needed to get us out of the hole that we are in.”