Electricity supply remains one of South Africa's biggest hurdles that impact its potential to address some of its socio-economic challenges and inequality.
In his 2021 State of the Nation Address, President Ramaphosa announced that rapidly expanding energy generation capacity remains a high priority for South Africa.
Initiatives to address the energy challenges
The President announced various interventions to address the energy challenges, such as:
the restructuring of Eskom into three separate entities for generation, transmission, and distribution;
Eskom implementing intensive maintenance and operational excellence programmes to improve the reliability of its coal fleet; and
reviewing of the tariff path.
Another initiative includes increasing generation capacity and what Eskom generates through the award of 2000 megawatts of emergency power by the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy. Another Department of Mineral Resources & Energy initiative will be requesting proposals for 2600 megawatts from wind and solar energy as part of Bid Window 5.
Eskom plans to increase electricity generation capacity by an additional 11800 megawatts from renewable energy, natural gas, battery storage, and coal. They will also partner with others to repurpose and repower part of its coal fleet.
The government's initiative is to ease the licensing requirements for new embedded generation projects, which could unlock 5000 megawatts of additional capacity and help reduce the impact of load shedding. The government will amend Schedule 2 of the Electricity Regulation Act within the next three months to increase the embedded generation's licensing threshold.
The role of renewable energy
South Africa is vulnerable to climate change. This means that traditional pathways to increasing energy supply, based on fossil fuels' burning, will become increasingly unviable.
Many questions need to be addressed, particularly with renewable energy:
Can we afford renewable energy?
What other options do we have to manage our energy problems?
What role is the private sector playing?
In Episode 3 of the Engineering in Africa Podcast, I talk to Thabo Moyo from Omang energy to unpack some renewable energy challenges.
Thabo's insights promise to provide a unique perspective and inspire the next generation of energy engineers.
With that said, welcome to the Engineering in Africa podcast.
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