Telling empowering stories, South Africans want to hear

Thursday, 16 November 2023 15:53

Eskom on track to expand transmission lines and unlock future generation capacity.

By Lehlohonolo Lehana.

Eskom has indicated that it has sufficient funding for the coming three years for the grid infrastructure investments that will be pursued in line with its Transmission Development Plan.

The funding is largely as a result of the R254-billion debt relief package extended to the utility by the National Treasury, but that there would be a funding gap thereafter. Currently there is also a moratorium on Eskom raising additional debt.

Speaking at the Transmission Development Plan (TDP) Implementation Forum held at the Eskom Academy of Learning on Wednesday, Managing Director of Transmission, Segomoco Scheppers, says the power utility is working hard to expand transmission lines and unlock future generation capacity for the power grid.

Previously, the power utility said it needed to augment the transmission network by approximately 14 200km by 2032 to ensure energy security in the country.

"[There] are currently 46 expansion projects in execution, of which 26 will deliver 1 632km of transmission lines, 11 290MVA and enable over 15 000MW of generation capacity. Of these 26 projects, 50% will deliver 890km of transmission lines, 3 290MVA of transformer capacity and enable the safe and reliable operation of over 10 000MW of new generation.

"This includes specifically Medupi and Kusile [power stations] as well as the Garob 267MW project connecting at Kronos substation in the Northern Cape. The other 50%... are in different phases of procurement and will deliver 435km and 8 000MVA, enabling 4 975MW of new generation capacity, mainly in the Northern and Western Cape," he said.

Into the future

Scheppers said Eskom has approved "the execution of R26 billion in capital investmen"” for transmission, with two priority programmes already in the pipeline to "accelerate the delivery of the transmission infrastructure".

"These programmes entail, firstly, the development of 25 projects in existing substations… which will unlock 13 000MW of new generation in the next five years; secondly, 22 expedited transmission projects that will unlock 24 000MW of grid connection capacity by 2033.

"We are developing these 47 projects, which have the potential to unlock 37 000MW of grid connection capacity between 2025 and 2033. These projects are at different stages of implementation in terms of design, procurement and construction,” he said.

Scheppers called on all stakeholders to support the power utility in its plans.

"I cannot over-emphasise the fact that the successful roll out of our plans will require continued support from all key stakeholders, including relevant authorities unlocking bottlenecks, as well as the market in terms of construction, contractors, suppliers and consultants.

"We are very grateful for the various NECOM [National Energy Crisis Committee] initiatives, which are proving very effective in addressing some of our historical challenges," he said.

National Transmission Company SA

Scheppers gave the forum an update on the legal separation of Eskom into the Generation, Distribution and Transmission entities.

According to Scheppers, the separation of transmission entity – dubbed the National Transmission Company South Africa SOC Ltd (NTCSA) – is fully underway.

"We are in the process of getting final approval from the Minister of Public Enterprises for the independent board of directors for this new company. A binding merger agreement has already been signed with suspensive conditions to be fulfilled… in order to transfer the current transmission business into the new subsidiary.

"Following the fulfilment of the suspensive conditions, NTCSA will then be operationalised and employees transferred to the new company on the same conditions of service and without disrupting their years of service. We are busy with the lender engagements that are required for us to obtain consent, and these are already at an advanced stage, "he said.

The National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA) has already approved licences for operating the transmission system, trading in electricity, and for import and export.

"The final licences and associated conditions are being finalised and in fact, we expect that we’ll be in possession of these licences before the end of this month," he said.

Load Shedding

Eskom says that load shedding will ramp up to stage 3 until Saturday before reducing between Stages 1 and for the weekend.

The shortage of generation capacity requires the implementation of stage 3 load shedding from 16h00 today until 05h00 on Saturday, Eskom said.

Thereafter, the implementation of stage 2 load shedding from 05h00 until 05h00 on Sunday, followed by stage 1 load shedding until 16h00 on Sunday.

Eskom noted that it will closely monitor the power system and communicate any changes to load shedding should it be required.

Unplanned outages are currently at 17 391MW of generating capacity, including the delays in returning to service four generating units, including Koeberg Unit 1. The capacity out of service for planned maintenance is 4 654MW.

Approximately 4 700MW of generating capacity is anticipated to return to service by Sunday evening. Eskom teams are working tirelessly to ensure that these additional generating units are returned to service as soon as possible.

Eskom’s load forecast for the evening peak demand is 27 668MW. Eskom added it would like to thank those who do heed the call to use electricity sparingly and efficiently, including switching off geysers and pools.