Urgent need to address Eskom transmission to deal with load shedding

Electricity Minister, Dr Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, has described load shedding as an economic problem that government is urgently addressing, as his department relentlessly tackles generation and transmission challenges.

“It's a structural constraint to the economy of the country and therefore it's indispensable to the resolution of the economic question in the country,” he said on Thursday.

The Minister is hosting a Transmission Financing Seminar with the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE).

The gathering will discuss the financing of South Africa’s Transmission Development Plan, which seeks to expand, support and secure the sustainability of South Africa’s energy mix and electricity supply.

The seminar brings together government, energy industry veterans and potential private sector investors to engage in a critical conversation on South Africa’s energy crisis.

Ramokgopa touched on the country’s Energy Action Plan (EAP), a comprehensive response by government to address the challenge of power cuts.

“In 1997, we were told that at the rate at which you are connecting households to the grid and the economy is growing, you're going to run into a generation problem, a capacity problem 10 years later, and we know that we ran into that problem.”

This is the reason he believes the country needs to speedily attend to transmission with the same vigour it is handling generation capacity.

“We are saying also now if you don't resolve the issues on the transmission side, having that problem today might not be as pronounced and I want to argue that it will be pronounced in the next six to 12 months.

“The similar amount of effort and exertion you’re placing on the generation side requires that they be placed also on the transmission side.”

Eskom's transmission has the mandate to reliably control, maintain, plan, expand and provide access to an interconnected transmission system.

Ramokgopa told the summit that part of the problem that is confronting Eskom is structural constraint primarily presented by two issues – energy deficit and issues of logistics.

The Minister spoke frankly about the impact of load shedding.

He highlighted agriculture and manufacturing as sectors that are heavily impacted by severe shortages in power generation capacity.

“And what this does really borrows from the modelling that has been done by the South African Reserve Bank, which begins to illustrate the kind of injury that is inflicted by load shedding on the South African economy, potentially contracting the economy.”

The Minister has since called for all hands on deck to contribute towards the resolution of this “bleak picture”.

Ramokgopa, who has visited all power plants to better understand the challenges, said there are communities and businesses that have not had electricity for about six years.

“This is not an exaggeration. And so as a result of the failure of the distribution infrastructure, I'm talking about transformers and substations, and this comes about as a result of municipalities being financially unviable.”

The Minister said he will introduce regular updates on the transmission side.

“[This] is after we've gone to Cabinet [to present] the options that are available to us. Once that is adopted, then we will give feedback and then we're doing a significant amount of work on the distribution side (sic).”

These interventions will see the country significantly strengthen and increase South Africa’s electricity supply and capacitate the energy sector in meeting global decarbonisation targets, thereby ensuring South Africa’s long-term energy security and energy sovereignty. – SAnews.gov.za

Source: South African Government News Agency