The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy released a statement on Tuesday 10 December 2019 stating that they are committed to developing adequate generation capacity to meet the electricity demand during the times of non-stop load shedding. 

The comes after Eskom on Monday 9 December, announced that it would escalate load shedding to stage 6, allowing for 6000 MW to be shed.

As part of efforts to ensure security of electricity supply for the country, the Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, Gwede Mantashe has considered short and medium term interventions for the electricity and energy challenges that are facing the country. 

Included in the strategy was the mention of an Independent Power Producer (IPP) instead of the state-owned power utility, Eskom. 

Four interventions to halt load shedding 

  • Publication of the Request For Information. 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 (Three 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. 
  • Promulgate Section 34 determinations. 
  • IPP’s to bring Window four capacity on stream earlier. 
  • Drive for the use of LPG gas. 

How the interventions could combat the load shedding crisis  

The Publication of the Request For Information (RFI) means that rather than waiting for a standard period of 36 months for a generation project to be made use of, the ministry would like to have immediate generation options available which would take up to 12 months instead. 

Among the interventions is the promulgation of section 34 determinations. These determinations are instrumental in guiding the IPP programme. 

An Independent Power Producer (IPP) or non-utility generator (NUG) is an entity, which is not a public utility, but which owns facilities to generate electric power for sale to utilities and end-users.

According to Business Insider, there are 27 Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Projects (REIPP) which have been under construction under the bid window four, which is what the statement refers to above. 

The REIPP’s are on the verge of completion, with some of them expected to be connecting to the grid from as early as February 2020. Together, these projects can add 2 300 MW of energy to Eskom’s grid, providing a mixture of wind, solar, biomass, and hydro to a struggling mix of wet coal. 

An example of one of the projects from window four is the Kangas Wind Farm in the Northern Cape. Think of it like this, Eskom or any user of electricity would pay these projects to supply sustainable energy. 

When referring to drive for the use of LPG gas, it basically means that a short to medium-term intervention for industry and citizens to use more gas, rather than electricity, will benefit the country in terms of energy.   

Clear path for energy and electricity supply 

The electricity regulator, NERSA, will be met to include on matters of concurrence so it can assist the ministry to respond to the challenges. 

“Despite these immediate interventions, the Intergrated Resource Plan 2019 is the blueprint that sets a clear path for energy supply and electricity for the country. It dictates that South Africa will continue to pursue a diversified energy mix,” said Mantashe.  

Twitter responses to IPP’s 

“Sign IPP’s into effect, you guys are playing marbles with our votes”

“What about demand side interventions, which can come on line quickly like solar geyser subsidies and ripple switches for geysers.”

“I am tired of useless statements by ministers… Get up and work chief. I voted you into power so do what’s best for your country, my small business feeding which employs 2 people is at risk of collapsing because of the current situation.”

“Stop talking immediately Gwede – get up and actually go impliment something, we’ll wait.” 

“Did Pravin Gordhan agree with your measures?”

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Presh JM Reporter

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