Business Maverick

Business Maverick

Mantashe in the dark on load shedding as he unveils latest renewable round results

A visitor inspects photovoltaic panels operating in the Sishen solar park, operated by Acciona SA, in Kathu, Northern Cape, South Africa, on Tuesday, June 2, 2015. South Africa, which has implemented rolling blackouts this year as electricity demand exceeds supply, is running a five-round program of tenders to tap new sources of energy and encourage more private companies to build power projects.

Minerals and Energy Minister Gwede Manatashe unveiled details of the 25 projects from the fifth window of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP) late on Thursday. He also made bizarre remarks about load shedding which suggest he is in the dark on the issue. 

To wit, the projects will produce 1,608MW from onshore wind and 975MW from solar photovoltaic plants and the total investment is expected to reach about R50-billion. Almost 14,000 jobs are expected to be created, just over half during the construction phase. South African citizen will have 72% of the jobs, while the expat workers will be subjected to the horrors of the shambolic mess that is the Department of Home Affairs, where the sun never shines. 

None of the projects will be generating power before April of 2024 and so will do nothing to address South Africa’s immediate power crisis which was underlined this week by stage 4 load shedding. 

The projects are 49.2% South African owned and the DMRE said in a statement that: “The majority of the equity owned by South Africans has been taken up by black people.  On average, black South Africans own 34.7% of the equity across the different projects, while the minimum threshold was 30%.” 

“In an effort to stimulate local manufacturing and production in the renewable energy value chain, the RFP required projects to commit at least 40% local content during construction.  This local content target can be achieved by purchasing local goods across the renewable energy value chain. On average, the 25 Preferred Bidders committed about 44% local spend during construction as a percentage of Total Project Value,” it said.  The project owners were not named.

So all the right boxes have been ticked. The appointed bidders will reach commercial close in about four months’ time.

The projects are mostly in the Western Cape, Northern Cape and Free State with a couple in the Eastern Cape and one in KZN – the first wind power project in the province. The names of the wind farms – which are the operating names – were announced, and all of the companies involved were expected to be on the IPP web site by the end of Friday, according to a DMRE spokesman.

Mantashe wrapped up the Thursday evening briefing on the projects with bizarre remarks about load shedding which  suggested he is in the dark on the issue. 

“I want us to objectively analyse the situation, the trends of load shedding. We hardly have load shedding during the day. We have load shedding twice at night. And that should be indicating something about the state of our base load compared to the additional capacity from renewables,” he said. 

Anyone who lives in South Africa – unless they are in a blue light bubble it seems – knows that load shedding is a frequent occurrence during the day, which is why it so disruptive to the economy. And in terms of base load, Eskom still gets about 80% of its power generation from coal. Does the minister think that coal – which he has shown himself to be a fan of – does not burn at night? The remarks were indeed puzzling in a Trumpian kind of way. 

He went on to say that: “I am leaving that to experts to do that analysis because if they don’t we are going to be chasing our tails. They say when are we going to stop load shedding and find that we actually have sufficient supply during the day. At night we have no supply, very short of supply because our base load is weak … If we don’t have base load to support renewables we are headed for disaster.” 

Ultimately, the remarks were another swipe at renewables by a minister who has shown himself to be a far bigger fan of nuclear power and coal. And saying that “we are headed for disaster” was also rich. Load shedding is a frequent occurrence during the day – a major obstacle to investment and a key reason why the unemployment rate is 34.4% – as debt-laden Eskom scrambles to maintain an aging fleet that was neglected for decades. South Africa is not headed for a disaster – it is a disaster. DM/BM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • William Kelly says:

    Oh heavens. All he does is change feet in his mouth. So out of touch. And clueless. And babbles on as if he knows what he’s talking about – one can’t even call it chutzpah.

  • John Brotherton says:

    Ed, are we seeing any investment in building more grid capacity? The Northern Cape grid is already constrained!

  • Gerrie Pretorius Pretorius says:

    You hit the nail on the head in your last sentence – “South Africa is not headed for a disaster – it is a disaster.” gwede is in the same mould as jacob – imbeciles of note and living in the dark ages where only today matters and tomorrow and the future are someone else’s ‘challenge’, since there are no more ‘problems’ in SA.

  • Phil Baker says:

    Is Cyril even AT Cop26 in Glasgow?!
    Or still forlornly electioneering in Eldorado Dark.
    Have a feeling SA exports are going to get a resounding Klap if our decarbonisations plans don’t take in huger urgency in 2022.
    It’s not a political game anymore and vast inward investments are on the table…

  • Wolfgang Preiser says:

    The Minister of Energy does not know the loadshedding schedule, how it works and what it does?!? Though highly unpopular, it is something (invented by a South African at Eskom) without which we would be totally scr….. Incredible. He seems ignorant of the enormous damage it is doing to the economy, jobs, everything – the worry is not about the Minister’s hot supper or watching his favourite show on TV. If he is not a moron, it is worse….

  • Angelo Agrizzi says:

    Interesting that the “project owners” are not mentioned,typical. Who got what deal? do some scratching (not a lot required) and you will find the latest in sponsorships and largesse. In 1999 I met a tough uncompromising unionist at a humble and conservative office that housed the National Union of Mineworkers offices in Rissik street Johannesburg, I write about Gwede Mantashe as a principled General Secretary in “Surviving the Beast” in a chapter titled The Unionist – depicting a man larger than life beaming with confidence and on the warpath against corruption, in the inaugural meeting he lambasted Watson for creating division in the National Union of Mineworkers. Fast forward to 2013, and like so many Gwede Mantashe is compromised in a cheap and nasty manner by Papa Leshabane, and so the rot starts to set in. A matter of time and I believe my predictions will come to pass. History has a way of repeating itself, and politicians similarly always seem to flounder. Heading for disaster – surely we can see the writing on the wall?, whilst the global community can boast improvement in last three decades, sadly South Africans cannot, and why? simply because the ANC and the Tri-partite leeches all live off the state, fed by a mere 9% of tax paying citizens. In 1994 the per capita GDP was at over 80%, today we are at 60% – Eskom, in 1994 generated 600% more electricity that China, fast forward to today, now less than half of what China produces. Gwede and comrades Vuka Vuka madoda!.

    • Charles Thatcher says:

      Well put, thank you Mr Agrizzi. Just what I was wondering about who the “project owners” are.
      Gwede Mantashe and the cadres have hit the ‘pause button’ for all the urgent/overdue/totally stuffed infrastructural upgrades needed since JZs rule, while the connected comrades jostle for position to catch the multibillion Rand contracts.
      But like they have shown in everything they touch, the ANC comrades couldn’t organize a ****** in a brewery.

  • L Dennis says:

    There is zero 25 projects dont be fooled they playing for time. Lies lies…. Don’t forget karpowership.

  • District Six says:

    Eskom did a great job of putting the “baseload” issue into the mouths of braindead state officials. Now every time someone wants to stall the inevitable renewable program they whip out this trite nonsense and wave it around. SA is not the only country with a grid distribution design, but everyone else manages renewable generation quite fine, so why can’t SA? In Brazil, China, Sweden, India, – heck, even in lowly Mozambique, baseload is an issue but it is not an excuse for inaction as it seems to be here in SA.
    You can fool us taxpayers with unintelligible gobbledygook like “baseload” but you can’t fool the rest of the world as easily.

  • Steven Burnett says: these projects have wind at 49c/kWh, solar at 43c. whilst our new build coal is R1.30. just build them already

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