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Eskom: 53GW of renewable energy needed to address SA’s electricity crisis

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Power utility Eskom says approximately 53GW of new additional generation capacity, particularly from renewable energy sources, will be required for the next 10 years to ensure energy security in the country.

It says the new additional power includes the current deficit of between 4 000MW and 6 000MW.

“To accommodate this additional capacity, and on the assumption that obstacles to the implementation of the rollout plan are removed, the transmission infrastructure would need to be augmented by approximately 14 200km of extra high voltage lines and 170 transformers by 2032,” it adds in a statement issued on Friday.

“This is a significant revision of the TDP (Transmission Development Plan) 2021, which based its assumptions for new generation capacity on the Integrated Resource Plan of 2019 (IRP2019), which proposed around 30GW of new capacity by 2030.”

The power utility says given uncertainty in the longer term and that the IRP is currently being updated, it is placing a strong focus on the implementation of projects over the next five years.

It further notes that the analysis shows a requirement of about 2 890km of extra high voltage lines and 60 transformers to the value of R72.2 billion by FY2027.

“This requires that some challenges beyond Eskom’s full control, such as the lead time to obtain servitudes, among other relevant authorisations, as well as the resource capacity in the country, be urgently addressed.”

Speaking at the TDP Public Forum on Thursday, Eskom’s managing director for transmission Segomoco Scheppers noted that the revised plan considers the deterioration of the energy availability factor (EAF) of the Eskom fleet, which was a key factor in drafting IRP2019.

Scheppers says the additional generation capacity requirements also take Eskom’s 2035 Corporate Strategy into account and considers connection applications received from various procurement programmes by the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE). He says applications from non-DMRE integration programmes and input from several renewable energy associations are included.

Eskom says accommodating this increased generation capacity means that a reliable and adequate transmission system is required to integrate and dispatch the new capacity to the load centres across the country.

“The next five years are very critical for security of supply. If the TDP 2022 requirements to deliver an adequate transmission network capacity by 2027 are to be met, a significant investment of R72.2 billion will be required to expand and strengthen the transmission grid over the next five years,” notes Scheppers.

“Of this amount, R50.8 billion is required for new capacity expansion projects to meet the reliability requirements, connection of new generation capacity and loads, as well as to acquire servitudes.”

He says a further R21.4 billion is needed to refurbish the existing asset base and procurement of production equipment.

Energy expert and co-director of the Centre for Complex Systems in Transition (CST) Professor Mark Swilling tells Moneyweb that Eskom’s TDP projection is heading in the right direction. “We need 5GW per annum, so for 10 years this is spot on.”

He says that although implementation will be done by the private sector that “all Eskom has to do is ensure that the grid can handle this. It can do that”.

However, noting his concern regarding the process, Swilling says the DMRE’s persistent discussions about coal and nuclear resources is worrying, because it shows that the department is not aligned to the TDP.

Nondumiso Lehutso is a Moneyweb intern.

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