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Thursday, 21 September 2023 19:59

Ramokgopa to present a plan on how to fix and expand power-transmission grid.

By Lehlohonolo Lehana.

Minister in the presidency responsible for electricity, Kgosientsho Ramokgopa says the Energy Action Plan (EAP) unveiled emphasises the need to address generation capacity gaps, but it is void of solutions to capacitate the grid needed to connect new power projects.

The Energy Action Plan has its own inherent weaknesses, and those weaknesses are such that we are not responding to the issues of transmission.

The EAP assumes that the transmission network is designed to accommodate new generation capacity in various geographies, said Ramokgopa. However, it is apparent that there are grid capacity constraints in provinces like the Western Cape, Northern Cape and Eastern Cape, where solar and wind resources for renewable energy generation are optimal.

Ramokgopa is hosting a Transmission Financing Seminar with the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE).  

The gathering will discuss the financing of South Africa's Transmission Development Plan, which seeks to expand, support and secure the sustainability of South Africa's energy mix and electricity supply.

The seminar brings together government, energy industry veterans and potential private sector investors to engage in a critical conversation on South Africa's energy crisis. 

In bid window six of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme, the government was unable to award 23 wind projects bids, owing to grid capacity constraints. Only 1 000MW of solar projects were awarded - leaving out 3 200MW of wind projects.

The danger now is that problems in generation will be transferred to transmission, warned Ramokgopa.

Eskom's transmission has the mandate to reliably control, maintain, plan, expand and provide access to an interconnected transmission system.

Ramokgopa told the summit that part of the problem that is confronting Eskom is structural constraint primarily presented by two issues – energy deficit and issues of logistics. 

The Minister spoke frankly about the impact of load shedding. 

He highlighted agriculture and manufacturing as sectors that are heavily impacted by severe shortages in power generation capacity.  

He recalled how, in the 1990s, the government was warned that the country would run out of generation capacity to keep the economy growing.

"We have those same warnings currently about the grid. Although not yet pronounced – they will become more apparent in about six to 12 months," he said.

"The similar amount of effort we place on the generation side requires that they also be placed on the transmission side."

Ramokgopa said he will introduce regular updates on the transmission side. 

"[This] is after we've gone to Cabinet [to present] the options that are available to us. Once that is adopted, then we will give feedback and then we're doing a significant amount of work on the distribution side (sic).

Ramokgopa said he will present a plan to the cabinet in October on how to fix and expand the country's power transmission grid.