Mantashe announces 'immediate measures' to aid energy supply

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The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy has announced short- and medium-term interventions to meet South Africa’s energy demands and address its electricity and energy challenges, including steps to allow Independent Power Producers to come on stream sooner.

This was an "an urgent and immediate task to ensure economic growth", it said in a statement. 

The move comes after Eskom on Monday announced that it would escalate load shedding to stage 6, allowing for 6000 MW to be shed. Among the interventions from the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy is the promulgation of section 34 ministerial determinations.

These determinations are instrumental in guiding the Independent Power Producer programme and procurement. The Integrated Resource Plan was released earlier this year as an overarching guide to the energy mix for the next decade.

Following the announcement of stage 6 load shedding, Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan said that his department would have discussions with the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy on how best to secure 4 000 MW of spare capacity to add to the system.

Several interventions

The Department Mineral Resources and Energy's statement said Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy Gwede Mantashe would initiate several interventions, including allowing IPPs to bring Window 4 capacity on stream earlier, as well as a initiating a drive for the use of more liquefied petroleum gas use, among others.

The statement further said the minister would approve the publication of a Request for Information (RFI) on available short-term options.

"The lead time for generation projects under normal circumstances is anything from 36 months onwards. The RFI will enable the department to have a sense of immediate generation options available (3 to 12 months) to help fill the short-term gap. This will then enable the Department to design an appropriate intervention in the immediate term," the statement said.

The statement said the National Energy Regulator of South Africa would be met to conclude on matters of concurrence so it could assist the Ministry in responding to current challenges.

"Despite these immediate interventions, the Integrated Resource Plan 2019 is the blueprint that sets a clear path for security of energy supply and electricity for the country. It dictates that South Africa will continue to pursue a diversified energy mix," the statement said.

Speaking to Fin24 on Monday, energy expert Chris Yelland said that the Department of Mineral resources and Energy, were "sitting on their hands" instead of procuring emergency capacity and unlocking a lot of red tape, which blocked access to additional energy supply and prevented customers from looking after their own electricity future. He also criticised what he called a lack of collaboration between government departments.

It was crucial to set section 34 determinations in motion and cut red tape blocking access to additional power supply, he added. 

Time to move on from Eskom

Meanwhile, head of the ANC’s subcommittee on economic transformation Enoch Gondogwana says it’s time for South Africa to move beyond Eskom.

“We can’t depend on Eskom, new energy needs to be brought in urgently,” said Gondogwana.

“The discussion around Eskom is a useless debate, we need to move from Eskom and look at other measurers,” Gondogwana said to News24.

“Eskom has been fiddling with oil leaks, fix one today, tomorrow is another problem. The problem now requires some sort form of urgent strategy,” said Gondogwana, insisting new capacity was required.

He said there were lots of interesting proposals that could assist with the problem but suggested there seemed to be reluctance in exploring some of these.

At the same time DA interim leader John Steeinhuisen has told journalists that there were up to 17 independent power producers who had sent applications to the department of mineral resources.

- Additional reporting by Tshidi Madia

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