Eskom hoping to add 2 335MW to the grid shortly

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Dr Kgosientsho Ramokgopa. Photo: GCIS/flickr

The Minister in the Presidency for Electricity, Dr Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, has emphasised the government’s commitment to accelerating the extension of transmission lines to the Cape provinces. The aim is to unlock a potential minimum of 2 335MW of energy in the short term.

Ramokgopa highlighted the existence of operational renewable energy projects that are currently generating electricity. However, their capacity to contribute to the struggling grid is hindered by the absence of transmission infrastructure.

“In the short-term, we can unlock about 2 300MW of stranded electrons. That is the route that we are taking and as the minister, I’ll be making the necessary announcement. We already know the corridors where we are going to get this 2 335MW. It’s in Upington, the Juno Gromis 400kV line and all that in the Nama transformer in Upington.

“Once we make those interventions, we get an additional 2 300MW. We don’t have to wait for 10 years. It’s the interventions that we are making now but we need to design a bespoke financing solution to help us to address the issues of transmission,” he said.

Looking ahead in the longer term, South Africa plans to construct approximately 14 000km of new transmission lines to interconnect renewable energy projects and enhance the overall grid resilience.

Shifting the focus to demand management, Dr Kgosientsho Ramokgopa noted a significant surge in interest for rooftop solar installations among both individuals and businesses. This uptick can be attributed to the government’s announcement of tax incentives and financial support for those willing to invest in such initiatives. Ramokgopa highlighted that the connected rooftop installed capacity has experienced substantial growth, increasing from around 983MW in 2022 to 4 412MW as of mid-2023.

“Our anticipation is that the rate of growth will exceed what we would have seen in the previous calendar year. Two things are an impediment to an aggressive rollout of roof top solar. Firstly, it’s the availability of equipment.

“South Africa, compared to many countries in the world, has had the biggest import of solar panels. We have had conversations with some of the biggest manufacturers across the globe – invariably from China – to localise production here. We are confident we are going to do that.

“The second impediment is the skills to install these solar panels. We will be recruiting about 25 000 people to be able to install. In every crisis, there is an opportunity and that opportunity must be taken. We are looking to industrialise, we are looking to create these new skills so that we get people into jobs,” he explained.

 

Compiled by Warren Hawkins

warren@mahareng.co.za