As calls grow for urgent action on electricity self-generation in the wake of the recent devastating power cuts, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Wednesday that his government was fast-tracking applications that would allow industry and businesses to produce and use its own power.
In an opinion piece published by the Daily Maverick, the President said that Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe was looking into applications for self-generation.
“Government is determined to remove the bureaucratic constraints to self-generation and have those users with the capacity producing their own power,” he said.
The Minerals Council South Africa – whose members were hit hard by last week’s Stage 6 loadshedding that shuttered some mines – has joined the City of Cape Town in urging the government to make it easier to generate their own electricity.
Unregulated generation is currently limited to 1 MW plants with indications that this will be increased to 10 MW. The Minerals Council states that electricity produced by mining companies for their own use often does not require Eskom handling or transmission and, therefore, should not be subject to licensing, irrespective of size.
Ramaphosa said that government would open up the space for users – both big and small – to generate electricity for their own use.
This is in addition to bringing more power into the grid through the recently launched 2 000 MW to 3 000 MW power purchase programme, that aims to fill the short-term supply gap and reduce the use of expensive diesel generators.
Ramaphosa stated that the supply gap was closer to 5 000 MW, than the 2 000 MW to 3 000 MW that the Integrated Resource Plan puts forward.
Other sources for immediate additional capacity with quick turnaround times include floating power barges with gas turbines.
“Additional energy supply from other sources would help Eskom to get back on track and become more reliable, cost-effective generator of electricity. Instead of weakening Eskom’s position in the electricity sector, new producers will assist the company in achieving greater efficiencies,” the President said in the Daily Maverick op-ed.