Investment in transmission critical

Minister in the Presidency for Electricity, Dr Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, says on boarding new generating capacity - particularly renewable energy - is critical to ensuring that additional capacity is added to the national grid. He was speaking during an update on the implementation of the Energy Action Plan on Tuesday. The expansion is critical to on boarding new generating capacity - particularly renewable energy - onto the national grid to relieve pressure on the electricity system. Ramokgopa explained that 'tremendous progress' is being done to ensure that solutions are found for transmission. 'As the President said last week, the Minister in the Presidency responsible for Electricity is now given the responsibility to ensure that we are able to go into the market to procure or to access the financing in relation to the transmission side. 'We have been doing an extraordinary amount of work. The team was [at the World Economic Forum annual meeting] in Davos. Part of those conversations was to enter into bilateral discussions with some of the potential financiers. 'We have...financing. That is private sector willing to come into the space of transmission. We had conversations...with the heads of missions that are represented here in the country and they did confirm that availability of that financing,' he said. Ramokgopa assured that although private sector participation is being encouraged in the transmission space, the South African government will remain the owner of the grid through the Eskom owned and newly established National Transmission Company of South Africa. 'What we have been doing is to find an architecture and legal configuration on how best we are going to access [funding] and one of the areas that is receiving attention is the possibility of us putting together…something that is akin to the IPP [Independent Power Producer Procurement] office on the generation side…an Independent Transmission Project office. '[This is] to ensure that we are able to procure with speed, agility, applying som e degree of innovation and ensure that we are able to access that liquidity that's sitting with the private sector without relinquishing state ownership of the grid,' he said. The minister acknowledged that transmission expansion is facing challenges. However, he emphasised that government is tackling these challenges. 'The challenges on the transmission side are almost equivalent to the ones on the generation side and in fact, if they are not tackled immediately they are likely to be even more catastrophic compared to the challenges on the generation side because those are likely to undermine our ability to maintain the integrity of the system. 'We are not waiting for the crisis to confront us. We are going to address that situation immediately. This is in support of Eskom's work…consistent with their transmission development plan which advocates for the expansion of the network,' he said. Source: South African Government News Agency