Electricity utility Eskom is developing a Web-based portal that will offer real-time visibility of locations in South Africa where new generators can be immediately or easily connected to the grid.
The utility has, for the past three years, been arguing that between 4 000 MW and 6 000 MW of additional capacity is required to address load-shedding and to provide time and space for the maintenance of its neglected coal fleet.
It has also warned of grid constraints in particular regions, especially in the high-potential renewables provinces of the Northern, Eastern and Western Cape.
However, Eskom has also confirmed that 32 GW of grid capacity is immediately available to those independent power producers (IPPs) willing to build projects outside of these prime solar and wind territories.
Mpumalanga, where most of the country’s coal stations are located and where Eskom aims to implement its ‘Just Energy Transition’ strategy, has about 6.5 GW of grid supply area capacity.
There is also capacity available in KwaZulu-Natal (6 GW), Gauteng (4.5 GW), Free State (4.1 GW), the North West province (3.5 GW) and Limpopo (2.5 GW).
Amid the implementation of rotational power cuts of between 4 000 MW and 6 000 MW (Stages 4 to 6), CEO André de Ruyter reported that Eskom was undertaking a survey of available grid connections that would then be superimposed with wind, solar and land-ownership data to identify those areas that could offer immediate grid access.
De Ruyter said during a recent briefing that the intention was to make the information available on a real-time basis through an open access website to “anybody who would like to connect to the grid”.
He also confirmed that more parcels of grid-ready Eskom land had been identified in Mpumalanga for release, through long-term lease agreements, to IPPs.
A bidding process for the land would be initiated in August.
In June, Eskom announced that 18 companies had been selected following its first land-release bidding process.
Projects built on these properties, which cover about 4 000 ha of the 36 000 ha available under the programme, could add a total of 1 800 MW of generation.
Eskom was also canvassing the views of energy experts on ways to end load-shedding, and De Ruyter reported that both supply- and demand-side options were discussed during a roundtable on June 24.
He said that these options were currently under consideration, but that some would require “policy interventions”.
“We have been engaging with our shareholder and we will leave that to the policy side to decide on, but we have certainly provided our input into opportunities for us to bring a rapid conclusion to load-shedding through interventions on both the supply and the demand side.”