Business Maverick

POWER CRISIS

Eskom hopes to recover 6000 MW in the next two years

Eskom hopes to recover 6000 MW in the next two years
Eskom’s Lethabo coal-fired power station. (Photo: EPA-EFE/KIM LUDBROOK)

Eskom’s Calib Cassim and the City of Cape Town’s James Vos are pushing for an urgent shift in policy to address the triple challenge of energy security, affordability and sustainability, while James Mackay of the Energy Council of SA warns that being a late adopter of clean technology will further entrench South Africa’s problem

While South Africans across the country are scrambling to find alternative power solutions and community groups are discussing the possibility of a national grid collapse, Eskom’s acting group chief executive, Calib Cassim, confidently told delegates at an energy conference in Cape Town on Wednesday that the power utility hopes to recover 6000 MW in its fleet in the next two years.

Granted, Cassim admitted that the utility was “starting the winter on the back foot, minus 3000 MW. A year ago, we had three units of Kusile working, which we (now) don’t have, and two units of Koeberg are also not available this year.”

Hot on the heels of the launch of former chief executive Andre de Ruyter’s explosive tell-all “Truth to Power: My three years inside Eskom”, Cassim was asked how the campaign against corruption within  Eskom was progressing. He acknowledged that there are certain areas where more corruption takes place, adding that “the number of items that have been raised on our whistle-blowing platforms is increasing and we see that as a positive indicator”.

Read more in Daily Maverick: André de Ruyter’s Truth to Power: The end of days

Cassim also noted that although almost 300 arrests have been made in the last year, more convictions are needed to instil public confidence in the parastatal.

Alderman James Vos, City of Cape Town mayoral committee member for economic development says a survey among business owners has revealed that 66%  had to cut jobs because of rolling blackouts. “With the national power supply still dominated by coal, it is clear that an urgent shift in policy is necessary. An important and hopeful part of this is that it is also doable, and I know this because here, in the city of Cape Town, we are doing it. Cape Town is able to protect its customers from up to two stages of load shedding, thanks to our maintenance and our investment in the Steenbras Hydro Pumped Storage Scheme,” he said, adding that phase one of the city’s tender for 200 MW of renewable energy from independent power producers is also at an advanced stage with contracts for this phase on track for final awarding in this year.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Cape Town to build solar plant capable of protecting against a full stage of rolling blackouts

“We also launched our biggest power tender yet, a 500 MW dispatchable energy tender. It is part of our plan to protect our residents from the first four stages of load shedding within three years,” Vos told delegates.

Just energy transition

James Mackay, chief executive of the Energy Council of SA, pointed out that global clean technology investment overtook financing of fossil fuel projects for the first time in 2022.

“We have to ask, who will provide the investment for a just energy transition (in Africa) and how do we address the triple challenge (of energy security, affordability and sustainability)? When doing that, addressing socio-economic challenges must be front and centre.”

“South Africa will decarbonise and we will transition,” Mackay stated. He warned, however, that being a late adopter of clean technology will further entrench the country’s problems. “If we can’t be agile enough to recognise the economic opportunities in clean technology, we will be excluded from global markets,” he said.

Fourth dimension to energy trilemma

Vuyelwa Mahanyele, GE Vernova’s regional sales director for gas, sees a fourth dimension to the energy trilemma of finding a balance between security, affordability and sustainability; namely, the need to develop large infrastructure projects and the need for the jobs and skills to create the energy required to lead the continent’s economic development.

“Decarbonisation is not as straightforward as we want it to be. It’s not just renewable energy and batteries, which are critical.” 

She stated that renewable energy sources and carbon-emitting sources both have a role play. “Without planning to incorporate both of these into our system, we won’t achieve energy security.” BM/DM

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